With the announcement by AAM that it would be closing its Paris factory and displacing up to 170 workers at the end of this year, Tonya Baumgartner of the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce helped organize a job fair at the Tyson Foods Logan County Career Center on Oct. 30.

“We thought October was a good time to be looking because they were going to be out of work by the end of December,” said Baumgartner.

Baumgartner also acknowledged she has heard the rumors around town that the shut down date for the factory may actually be some time in early 2019, but said she, nor others involved with the job fair, have been able to obtain confirmation of any changes.

Also particular to the workforce from AAM, formerly Cloyes Gear, was the time of day the fair was set, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

“We planned it around their shift changes, since they work from 2 to 2 so we could catch all their employees,” said Baumgartner.

That also allowed teenage students after they were dismissed for the day.

All told, the fair drew 106 to the Career Center.

Job fair visitors were inundated with a variety of both job and continuing education opportunities and information as the fair drew representatives of 35 area vendors including Stark Manufacturing, Tyson Foods, Rockline Industries, Butterball, Big River Roller Manufacturing, Sub Teach, several staffing services, Paris Health and Rehabilitation, Bank OZK; military opportunities including the Arkansas National Guard, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force; colleges including Arkansas Tech, ATU-Ozark, UA Fort Smith; and services including ARVAC, Arkansas Rehabilitation Services, Arkansas Services for the Blind and the Western Arkansas Employment Development Agency.

In addition to the booths inside the Career Center was the mobile unit from the Governor’s Taskforce on Dislocated Workers.

Inside the RV are 13 computers and assistance with a variety of job related matters.

“What we offer is the opportunity for people to apply for jobs online where there are not a whole lot of computers in a main area or a community,” said Greg Nichols of the Department of Workforce Services. “We also offer the opportunity for them to put together resumes, and register in Arkansas job links, and that way in job links they get an opportunity to build a resume and to print it out. We also teach them interview skills as well.”

The department is also concerned about those with criminal convictions, Nichols said.

“We do have books for anyone who is a felon,” he said. “We are targeting them as well. Returning citizens is what we call them that are coming back into society. We can give them so direction on things they can do before they get to the workforce center.”

A total of 28 visited the RV. Nichols said the closest workforce center is located in Fort Smith.