Looking for work, hundreds attend Gary job fair
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent July 10, 2014 11:12PM
A Genesis Convention Center employee tosses bottles of water to crowds of job seekers outside at the 2014 NWI Diversity Fair Thursday. | Michael Gonzalez~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 11, 2014 2:02AM
GARY — Sheila Stuckey and Maigeane Tucker counted themselves lucky to have waited in line for only an hour and a half.
While the mother-daughter duo from Gary spoke with recruiters from different companies upstairs, thousands of job seekers crowded the front door of the Genesis Convention Center and wrapped around the building nearly to the Adam Benjamin Metro Center parking lot across 4th Avenue.
“I didn’t think the line would be around the block,” said Tucker, adding she was looking for a full-time job with the city’s building department. “Everybody needs a job.”
“I’m glad I got in myself,” Stuckey said. “I just think there are no jobs in the area.”
Fed by advertising and social media, the 2014 Northwest Indiana Diversity Fair, sponsored by Choice DNA Testing of Merrillville and LocalCareerFairs.com, drew hundreds of people, some in suits, others in work clothes, and nearly all of them with resumes and hopes for a new opportunity.
The turnout surprised organizers, but it also shows the diversity of the workforce, said Lawrence Reese, a manager with the website.
“We’re just trying to show some diversity for these corporations, and we’re trying to keep the local economy stimulated as much as we can,” Reese said.
Organizers even threw bottles of water to thirsty job seekers waiting outside.
If they got through the front door, tightly guarded by local police, job seekers could speak to recruiters from U.S. Steel, the U.S. Postal Service and banks, or they could talk to employees of local colleges and universities.
Some hopefuls, including Chris Coleman of Merrillville and Chris Askew of Portage, deterred by the waiting line, opted to go online to apply for jobs. Both men have full-time jobs but wanted more.
“I figured at least if I can talk face-to-face with them, instead of going online, which I’ve been doing, I could get better results,” Coleman said.