By DAVID BORAKS
Photo: Sheraton Davidson Hotel developer Jatin Desai talks to a job fair participant.
At nine information tables, representatives from the businesses talked to visitors about current future jobs expected in the area. Some visitors asked questions and filled out applications for jobs in and beyond the Exit 30 area.
Participants included Harris Teeter, Homewood Suites hotel, the Sheraton Davidson Hotel & Conference Center, Shula 347 Grill, Family Eye Care, Downtown Davidson Inc., the Town of Davidson, Summit Coffee, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and the Ada Jenkins Center.
Many of the jobs are for retail sales and office help. The hotels listed opportunities ranging from management positions to maintenance and housekeeping jobs. The town had postings for a town planner and police officers.
300 TO 400 JOBS
Construction continues this winter on office and retail buildings, hotels and new homes in the area along Griffith Street east of I-77. The new Harris Teeter grocery opens with a sneak preview the evening of Feb. 5.
Davidson officials think construction in the Exit 30 area could be about 50 percent completed by year’s end. Ultimately, commercial development at the exit could bring 300 to 400 new jobs, Planning Director Kris Krider estimates. (See our Jan. 18 report “2008 may be the year of Exit 30″)
Town Planner Lauren Blackburn said the idea for a job fair grew out of planning meetings with West Davidson residents over the past year and a half. Residents told town officials they wanted to make sure people in the neighborhood had a chance to apply for new jobs coming to town.
“As a result of those meetings, we realized there was a need to announce and help folks find out about job opportunities at Exit 30,” Ms. Blackburn said Saturday. So the town and Ada Jenkins Center organized the fair. She said it’s possible similar fairs could be held every six months or so as more businesses get close to opening.
Besides jobs, the Ada Jenkins Center, at 212 Gamble St. on the West Side, was offering information about its LITES career counseling and training program, which stands for Linking Individuals to Employment Success. Counselor Cara Schlitz said the center also will start a new program in coming weeks that’s aimed specifically at helping residents improve personal skills that will help them “find and keep jobs.”
As participants quizzed employers about jobs and opening dates, they welcomed the fair. But some also said more efforts are needed to ensure West Side residents are treated fairly as the local job market expands.
“This is something that was definitely needed,” said the Rev. Brenda H. Tapia, a Davidson native and former head of Davidson College’s Love of Learning program, said as she filled out a hotel job application.
Ms. Tapia, now retired, worries most higher paying jobs in the Exit 30 area will be filled before Davidson residents have a chance to apply.
“Many of the businesses that come here, they recruit everywhere before they look at the town they’re coming to,” she said.
Ms. Blackburn said as development continues, more jobs will become available. The town hopes to continue providing information through the town website and possible future events like Saturday’s.
Jan. 18, 2008, “2008 may be the year of Exit 30″
Cristal Moncur, sales director for the new Homewood Suites in Davidson, talks to manager Sheree Renshaw as residents fill out job applications Saturday. The Homewood Suites is an extended-stay hotel that will open in April. (photos by David Boraks)