published Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Dalton job fair goal is to 'get people back to work'

  • photo
    William Merryman talks about the difficulties he has faced in his search for a full-time jo at the Georgia Department of Labor's Dalton Career Center.
    Photo by Alyson Wright /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A job readiness fair next week at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center will help the unemployed in Dalton get a leg up in an area that has lost more jobs in the last year than any other place in the country.

The event is a joint effort between the Georgia Department of Labor, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, the city of Dalton, Whitfield County government and the Murray County Chamber of Commerce and is the first effort of a newly appointed Georgia Special Workforce Assistant Team.

Dalton was selected because it has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at 11.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

"Local employers in the greater Dalton area have jobs available, however, they have had challenges in matching the available jobs with workers," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.

Participants will get help writing a resume, using social media, selling themselves and interviewing, said Chris Upchurch, assistant director of the Dalton Career Center.

Workshops will be held Monday through Wednesday from 1 to 8 p.m.

"We want to help as many people as possible," said Upchurch. "Our main goal is to get people back to work."

With 11.6 percent of its workforce still without jobs in August, Dalton continues to have the highest jobless rate of any Georgia metropolitan area.

Many days at the Dalton Career Center are busy. People coming in for help can form a line that goes out the door and around the street, officials said.

William Merryman was unemployed for two years before he found work part time at the local Dollar General. He lives at a homeless shelter and comes to the career center several days a week.

He had once been a human resources manager at Kobleco making more than $70,000 a year but left the Fortune 500 company to start a biodiesal business, which failed.

Over the years he has tried to get a manual labor job in the carpet industry, but employers have told him he's overqualified.

"That's life," he said.

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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