Senator Eddie Melton, state senator for Senate District Three, hosted a career expo alongside the Center of Workforce Innovations at the RailCats Stadium in Gary, Indiana. The career fair was held on Saturday, October 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and opened a plethora of opportunities to locals.
“Today’s event is the first of many and we’re partnering with the Center of Workforce Innovations to host a career fair,” Senator Melton said. “We want folks to realize that there are many lifelong career opportunities in Northwest Indiana.”
The career fair offered attendees over 35 employers as well as workshops in a welcoming environment where anyone seeking employment could feel free to ask questions and apply for a potential career.
“We wanted to create a platform for businesses as well as individuals to make a connection,” Senator Melton said. “We felt that the RailCats Stadium was the perfect venue for that; They have the capacity, the ambiance, and you can see the ballpark. It’s a great opportunity.”
One of the many factors that Senator Melton took into consideration when hosting this event, was how this event can help individuals not only find a career but also overcome other obstacles that might hinder them from being able to keep their employment.
“For some folks, childcare and transportation have been a barrier,” Senator Melton said. “Just consistently having those dialogues with folks to see how we can address that not only at a local level but also from a state level.”
Senator Melton conveyed his gratitude towards the team that helped put this event together.
“I want to thank Lisa Daugherty and the entire Center of Workforce Innovations for their leadership, and their ability to help make the connections with these employers,” Senator Melton said. “One of the things I wanted to bring to the table is being able to draw the community out and provide my district specifically and all of Northwest Indiana with opportunities to make these connections. I think this is just the beginning.”
Amongst the multitude of career opportunities were BP, Steel City Bakery, Cleveland Cliffs, United States Steel, Schneider, and Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters to name a few.
Maurice Shelton, also known as Chef Blaque is a sugar artist and owner of Steel City Bakery in Gary, Indiana. Shelton was a winner on the Netflix show, “Sugar Rush”. After having worked for various employers throughout the years, Shelton decided to take his passion for creativity and turn it into his business.
“I know that I have the capacity to work for someone, but I don’t want to, so I built my own company,” Shelton said.
Shelton offered some valuable advice to anyone who might want to start up their own business or build their own brand.
“Continue to persevere,” Shelton said. “Keep going because consistency is what brings results.”
Travis Williams, a business representative for Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, has been a carpenter for 12 years and attended the event in hopes to spread the word to individuals about the carpenter’s union.
“I’ve been a representative for Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio for five months now,” Williams said. “I’m explaining to people that the apprenticeship program is an earn-while-you-learn type of program,”
Williams opened up about his passion for being a carpenter.
“We change people’s lives,” Williams said. “We’re giving people the skills to potentially be able to invest in themselves. As I started my journey as a representative, I started to meet a lot of owners who are a group of guys who brought their finances together and started construction businesses.
Mary L. Robinson, a resident of Gary, Indiana, describes the career fair as an enlightening experience.
“I actually may have a job offer already,” Robinson said. “After attending this event, I feel encouraged to do more than I’m used to. Even if you don’t have the experience, apply anyway and try to get into an entry-level position.”
Dominique Smiley, director of youth engagement at the Center of Workforce Innovations, hopes that the community will use this experience to their benefit.
“I want our job seekers to be able to not only build relationships but also learn more about what the employers here in Northwest Indiana are offering,” Smiley said.
“I want them to feel comfortable walking up to the tables, asking questions and as a team, encouraging them and being there for them.”
Smiley also mentioned the WOW! workshop that WorkOne Services offers.
“The WOW! Workshop that is presented by WorkOne Services, is a general workshop that provides individuals with the need to know information pertaining to short-term training,” Smiley said. “We work with quite a bit of post-secondary institutions and colleges who train our customers.”
Smiley expressed her gratitude to those who helped make this event possible.
“I want to say thank you to the city of Gary for allowing us to hold this career expo at the RailCats Stadium,” Smiley said. “Thank you, RailCats Stadium staff, they have been amazing throughout this whole process. Also, thank you to our Senator, Eddie Melton, for asking us to partner with him on this amazing event.”
For more information about the Center of Workforce Innovations visit, www.cwicorp.com