Textile job fair successful; interest remains ongoing

Published 1:41 pm Friday, June 24, 2016

A job fair held in Monroeville June 16-17 to gather pre-applications for a proposed textile manufacturing plant in Frisco City exceeded expectations, economic development officials said Thursday.

Applications continue to be accepted at Alabama Career Centers in Brewton, Monroeville and Jackson, but initial estimates showed the total number of applications have already exceeded the number economic development officials were expecting.

“We feel very good about what we’ve seen thus far,” said Dr. John A. Johnson, executive director of Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance. “We are encouraged with the response of our communities. A lot of people remember the importance the textile industry once had in our area, and they’re excited about the prospect of it coming back to this area once more.”

An exact count was not available late Thursday, as career center officials were still sorting and reviewing applications.

While most economic development projects require almost total secrecy and confidentiality, this project was different, Johnson said.

“Rural areas face a huge challenge to prove they have a workforce both capable and willing to turn out in numbers,” said Johnson. “We were challenged and authorized by the company to prove we could attract a certain number of applicants, and we believe we have exceeded the scope of that request.”

Johnson stressed the job fair turnout would not guarantee that the company takes the next step, but said Coastal Gateway would continue to advocate on behalf of the project.

Jess Nicholas, assistant director for communication and researched, praised the work of local newspapers, media outlets and social media for their roles in helping spread word of the job fair.

“We could not have put this together without their help,” Nicholas said. “This was a significant challenge with a short timeline and everyone did their part. We still have a long road ahead of us but the results of this job fair put us on solid footing.”

Nicholas encouraged those interested in applying, but who have not already done so, to contact a local Career Center. Brewton’s Career Center can be reached at 251.867.3247.