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Nearly 800 show up for first-ever Columbia Co. job fair

Columbia County fair

Columbia County had its first-ever job fair -- and hundreds showed up. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 29, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011

EVANS, Ga. -- It's another sign of the times. Planners for a job fair in Columbia County were expecting a few hundred people Thursday morning, and nearly a thousand showed up.

Leonard Loudermilk has been out of work for a year and a half. He was excited about the chance to meet some employers at the job fair in Evans.

"It's nice to be able to sit down and look at somebody face-to-face and say hey, 'This is what I can do for you,'" Loudermilk said.

Single mother Rajiyah Smalls is also here, resume in hand, hoping to find a job for her family.

"That's why I'm out here today, doing what I have to do to support my child," Smalls said.

Both Smalls and Loudermilk were shocked to drive up and see a line of people stretching to the road.

"Got here and the line is wrapped around the block here so it shows that something like this is really needed in this area," Loudermilk said.

It's the first-ever job fair in Columbia County put on by the Department of Labor. Twenty-five employers and nearly 900 people showed up, some waiting in line outside for up to 45 minutes.

"I was looking more toward two to 300 hundred people and yeah we had well over 800 people to attend in the job fair," said Augusta Career Center Manager James Abron.

Regionally, this area is seeing a 10.6 percent unemployment rate, which is just higher than the state's 10.4 percent. Columbia County, the county with the best numbers, show a 7.7 percent unemployment rate.

"I really came out to see how many opportunities there might be," Smalls said.

And at this job fair, there were opportunities. Every employee had jobs.

"Not only did they have jobs, they had multiple jobs which was very, very important," Abron said.

It may be the first job fair out this way, but you can bet after this showing there will be others.

"Not gonna be the last one," Abron said.

The building was so packed at times the fire marshal even had to step in. There were also some people who were still waiting in line when the expo ended at noon.

If you didn't make it to Evans Expo, there will be another big job fair Tuesday at Fort Gordon from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be more than 50 employers at that one.

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