Scene in Passing: Tackling joblessness speed-dating style

Reducing unemployment one job at a time is painstaking but productive.

If something akin to speed dating will help, it makes sense. Such is the case with job fairs, which Carson City took seriously this year.

So here’s a holiday season helping of comments on Carson City’s 2013 public-private collaboration to match employers with prospective employees at three job fairs, which brought small but significant successes.

“Many job seekers did not know what to do,” said Mary Jane Ostrander, a division manager at city Health and Human Services, recalling the first city-backed job fair, in February. Ostrander said that by the final one, in October, employers noticed a difference as the job seekers got with the program, dressed for success and knew the drill: follow up after the meet-and-greet fair.

“The quality was better,” Ostrander said. The city’s Chamber of Commerce took notice and praised results after joining in the June and October fairs.

“We have found the job fairs to be a great informal tool for those who want to have the opportunity to learn more about the various employers and how they might fit in,” said Ronni Hannaman, chamber executive director. Gil Yanuck, chamber chairman, said each fair gives those on the hunt “another bite at the apple” in their job search efforts.

He said the fairs, which this year resulted in at least 146 people finding work, gave employers and job seekers exposure to each other and helped chip away at the city’s high unemployment rate.

“I think they provide a really important service to the community,” he said.

Linda Gotelli, branch manager for JOIN Inc., also known as Job Opportunities in Nevada, joined the chorus in praise of the fairs at which JOIN helped. She said Lynn Ellis, the HHS work force program case manager in Ostrander’s unit who ramrodded the job fairs, had visited her Friday to push for another fair in February 2014. Gotelli said that will have JOIN promoting her own unit’s life and job skills training next month in preparation.

Ellis compiled data showing a trio of 2013 fairs attracted 123 employers and 1,746 job seekers and led to the 146 employment connections. The jobs breakdown: 40 in staffing services; 22 in retailing; 20 in health care; 17 in telecommunications tech support, or sales; 16 at restaurants; 14 in manufacturing; six in gaming; six in sales; four at schools; and one in government.

Just a reminder: that 146 total is about a dozen or so more than Buffalo Wild Wings hired to open here last month.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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