ROCHELLE — Rochelle’s Community of Opportunity Hiring Expo will take place on May 6 from 12:30-4:30 p.m. at Rochelle Township High School in the blue gym. The event is a collaboration by the City of Rochelle, the Office of Mayor John Bearrows. Kishwaukee College and RTHS.
An advertisement for the event posted by the city called it the area’s largest hiring expo and said it will feature on-the-spot interviews, incentives and more from 40-plus employers. Attendees can register in advance for a chance to win $300 cash at hubsgethired.eventbrite.com.
The same organizations hosted a hiring expo last fall at RTHS in an effort to combat a nationwide workforce shortage. City of Rochelle Industrial Development Manager Peggy Friday called that event “incredibly successful” and wants to replicate it.
“In conversations with our industries and retail, we realize there is a strong need,” Friday said. “As we grow and new businesses come, we need the workers. We need a way to strengthen our workforce. Last fall was a huge success. We sold out space immediately and had 43 businesses and 200 job seekers. We wanted to replicate that again. We hear from our industries every day about how important this is.”
For an hour before the public event begins, the hiring expo will be open to just RTHS students, who event organizers want to expose to local opportunities.
“A lot of times we talk about how to keep our young people in our community and how we can get them back after college,” Bearrows said. “These kids will have a first-hand look at what we have locally.”
Friday said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape for the American worker and there’s more room for young people. She wants the area’s industries to capture those workers early and show them the opportunities and expose them to “some of the best jobs in the region and country.”
“And there’s opportunities to move up and grow,” Friday said. “Some of the best opportunities are right here and the pay scales are growing. We’re just really excited to spend that first hour exposing those kids to what Rochelle has to offer.”
The organizers of the hiring expo were not able to get hard numbers of how many people got jobs at the fall hiring expo, Friday said, but every business that participated said it was a value to be there. They came away with waiting lists of potential hirees that some have been using to hire from since.
As of Friday, the hiring expo was still looking for more employers for the event and has room for up to 43. Friday said to call city hall or email her at [email protected] if you want to participate as a business.
Tyson Foods will be providing a complimentary lunch to job seekers and Rochelle Foods will be feeding the employers and volunteers. 102.3 The Coyote and SuperHits 95.3 will be doing a live remote from the event.
“We just want to encourage employers to take advantage of this and there’s no cost to them,” Friday said. “Last year we had families come to it together. This expo is literally for everyone. Every type of business will be represented. If you’re in Rochelle or the surrounding area, we encourage you to come to this expo.”
Through the city’s HR department, there will be a booth to help people with resumes and interview coaching. Jobseekers can also schedule a separate time with City of Rochelle HR to work on those skills.
At the fall hiring expo, the Rochelle Fire Department’s bell was on-hand and was rung every time someone was hired.
“It happened 20 seconds into the event and went on all throughout the day,” Friday said. “Employers hired people and scheduled interviews on the spot and made connections. It was incredibly successful. We branded it last year as Rochelle is the community of opportunity. This hiring expo proves that. There is an opportunity to grow to love this community because of the opportunities that are here.”