Rutland Herald: Brattleboro job expo attracts more than 400

By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | September 30,2013

Brattleboro businesses, agencies and nonprofits want Vermonters to know that in spite of Vermont Yankee — Windham County’s largest employer — closing at the end of 2014, area employers are hiring.

With resumes and business cards in hand, more than 400 job seekers attended Thursday’s first Windham County Career Expo in Brattleboro. The event drew 40 exhibitors, 25 employers and eight local technical colleges. Some were hiring, while others offered job training.

According to expo organizer David Altstadt, Windham County has the potential to be a strong and vibrant local economy. He said there are a variety of jobs available ranging from local agriculture, artisans, high-technology companies, ski resorts, social services and more. He said the purpose of the job fair was to spread the word that there are great jobs right in the area.

“We have a lot of great employers who chose to locate here. It’s off Interstate 91, close to the Boston and New York areas and we know that several employers are looking for qualified workers,” Altstadt said. “They often do recruiting elsewhere we want to invest in the whole community and recruit locally.”

Patricia Moulton Powden of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, a nonprofit promoting economic development, attended Thursday’s expo and said that Windham County is growing, that employers are hiring and there is potential for economic growth in the region.

Just recently, Entergy made an announcement to close Vermont Yankee next year. Moulton Powden said the closure has brought a sense of urgency to the area, that organizations are preparing for life after Vermont Yankee and that efforts are being made to retain Yankee employees.

The job expo was one means of doing just that.

“What’s happening at Vermont Yankee only makes a bad situation worse, but BDCC has a plan,” Moulton Powden said. “We’re having a conference on economic development strategies to grow the economy. Topics will include mentoring, seed capital, business incubators, green building development and more.”

Altstadt and Moulton Powden both said that the large turnout was not because of Vermont Yankee. Event organizers had the event planned out well before Entergy’s announcement and they said turnout was large because it was the first expo in years in the Brattleboro area.

However, a representative from G.S. Precision of Brattleboro, said she met with some former and current Vermont Yankee employees looking for work. G.S. Precision manufactures machines components for the aerospace industry and representatives said they hope to retain Vermont Yankee workers. They will also provide on-site training, teaching and more for those who are willing to put in the effort.

Shannon Zimmerman of G.S. Precision said that Windham County has potential and good jobs are available in the area.

“Manufacturing jobs are not going away. We’re growing, We’re looking for experience and we do train,” she said.

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