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Job and career expo set

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s annual Job and Career Expo is happening again this month, and with an expanded slate of employers and education providers.

Mike Smith, resident services coordinator at the authority — partnering on this year’s expo with the Virginia Employment Commission — said 60 participants are registered, up from about 45 in previous years.

According to Smith, a wide range of industries will be represented when the event is held in the King’s Fork Middle School gymnasium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, July 17, from retail to professional services to manufacturing.

“We expect another large turnout again this year,” Smith said of the demand from jobseekers.

He cited a slight uptick in the unemployment rate in May. In Suffolk, the rate rose to 5.5 percent from 5.2 percent in April, according to preliminary data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Many people are still looking for jobs — they are still in the job market,” Smith said.

According to Smith, the labor force in Suffolk is skilled and ready to get to work; the challenge is to match folks up with the right employer.

And that’s what next week’s expo seeks to do.

Jobseekers will find the expo a convenient, cost-effective way to hunt for a job, Smith says. “It gives them an opportunity to be in one location for job searching,” he said.

“They can get around each table to talk to the various employers all in one location. It saves them time and money.”

When the first expo, in 2013, was held at the Salvation Army building on Bank Street, the facility couldn’t handle the strong demand from jobseekers.

As a result of that, 2014’s event was relocated to King’s Fork Middle, which proved a smart move.

“It has ample parking and ample space in the gymnasium,” Smith said. “It helps with logistics, and there wasn’t any traffic congestion whatsoever.”

Smith advised jobseekers planning to attend the event next week to dress professionally, bring their resumes and be ready to interview.

“It’s going to be a great event,” he said.

The venue is at 350 Kings Fork Road.