Large crowd at Thursday's Evans job fair

Vida Pugh’s search for employment started when she moved to Augusta two years ago.

Pugh, who lost her job at the Georgia Federal Credit Union in August 2009, was among hundreds of people in line Thursday morning for a job fair at the Evans Government Center Auditorium on Ronald Reagan Drive.

Just six months ago, Pugh said, she waited in an even longer line at an Atlanta job fair and never made it inside.

“Everybody wants to be productive and do something,” she said.

The fair, sponsored by the Geor­gia Department of Labor and Columbia County, lasted until noon.

Parking spots in the government complex quickly filled and some businesses across the campus were towing illegally parked vehicles.

By 11:30 a.m., about 850 people had filed into the auditorium to drop off résumés and speak with employers.

Event organizers expected the fair to draw just a couple of hundred attendees.

For more than an hour, the line outside the auditorium snaked across the parking lot and down the sidewalk of Ronald Reagan Drive.

“I knew that the crowd would be large, but I didn’t realize that this many people would respond,” said Melissa Kennedy, who left her job at the Evans Target two weeks ago. “The job market is so bad right now, not just in Martinez and Evans, but nationwide.”

The Martinez resident stood in line for about 45 minutes and said she was looking for a full-time job. She came prepared with copies of her résumé and reference list.

“I jumped on this immediately” after finding out about the fair, Kennedy said.

More than two dozen companies were represented, including ADP, FPL Foods, Rhodes Financial/Tax Slayer and Walmart. Each employer had jobs to offer.

“A lot of people are needing work right now,” said Aaron Healy, a shift manager at the Evans Walmart who was working a booth at the fair. “This is a great opportunity to see what’s available for them.”

The company had positions available for an overnight stocker, cashier and assistant manager at the Evans location.

More than 130 people had submitted résumés at his table by 11 a.m., Healy said.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TRIP

Several Augusta officials took an economic development trip to Atlanta on Thursday, although the exact nature of the visit is not known.

Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell said he, Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Karen Nixon, the mayor’s executive assistant, drove to Atlanta on Thursday for an afternoon visit with Craig Lesser.

Lesser, the former Commissioner of Economic Development under Gov. Sonny Perdue, now is a managing partner of Pendleton Consulting Group.

During a 2006 visit to Augusta, Lesser remarked that the city had a great team, but needed a single point of contact for state leaders passing along business prospects. At the time, Copenhaver said he would fill the role himself because of budget constraints. But last week, the mayor announced that he wants to add an economic development professional to his staff.

– Susan McCord, staff writer

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