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Council backs Job Fest again
Employment a major issue for the city
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This photo shows the 2018 Great Bend Job Fest. The Great Bend City Council Tuesday night again approved helping to sponsor the annual event. - photo by Tribune file photo

As it has since the Great Bend Job Fest’s inception, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved offering $1,000 to help sponsor the 12th-annual event. The 2019 Job Fest is set for 3-6 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Great Bend Events Center.

“We always appreciate the city’s support,” said Scott Donovan, a Job Fest committee member since the beginning in 2007.

This regional job fair is targeted for businesses and employees in central Kansas, and is a collaboration among representatives from many organizations, Donovan said. Entities involved with the planning and execution of the event include the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, Barton Community College, KansasWorks and several employers.

“We know the unemployment rate is low,” Donovan said. “This event does a lot for employers and employees.

“With your generous support we were able to provide an outstanding event in 2018 which was held at the Great Bend Events Center,” he said.

“If we fill all the open jobs in Great Bend, it would be like bringing another employer to town,” said Councilman Chad Somers in supporting the sponsorship which pulls money from the city’s economic development budget. “It is a great use of public funds. It is one of the most important things we can do.”

In fact, discussion of the Job Fest led to a broader discussion of employment issues in the community. This included city officials attending more job fairs and doing more to promote Great Bend and the jobs available here.

However, support was not universal among council members. Of the six present, there was one no vote from Councilman Brock McPherson.

Highlights of last year’s event included:

• Eighty participating employers promoted open positions within our local area businesses to job seekers.

• The Kansas Works bus was on-site to provide resume assistance to job seekers.

• A career closet was set up by Barton Community College business students to offer free professional clothing that was donated by community members and made available to job seekers. 

This will take place again this year and “gently worn” professional wear can be dropped off at the KansasWorks office during business hours. 

The KansasWorks bus will also be back.

The Job Fest Committee reached out to area communities and counties, along with major area employers. Each sponsor is also entitled to a booth.

Schools also bring in students to get applications or just study career options, he said.

It’s tough to put a number on how many attendees find jobs based on the fest, Donovan said. “There are very few people placed that day, but it starts the interview process.”

However, “over the years, it has been very successful,” he said. 

“This year we want to offer the same services and increase our marketing and promotion efforts to bring in even more participation from area businesses and job seekers,” Donovan said. “We are confident that the benefits provided to Great Bend in exchange for partnering sponsorship return your investment by retaining valuable employees that might otherwise leave our community.”