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Outdoor job fair at Booster Park offers 450 employment opportunities

Outdoor job fair at Booster Park offers 450 employment opportunities

In a time when many people have been laid off due to the pandemic’s impact on the economy, it’s good to know there are jobs to be had in and around Orange County. That was the happy news last Wednesday at the job fair sponsored by the Orange County Economic Development Office, the Orange County Chamber of Commerce and Virginia Career Works—Orange County Center.

Held in the pavilion at Booster Park, the job fair featured representatives from 10 area employers and attracted about 30 jobseekers.

According to Marty Bywaters-Baldwin, the local director of workforce services for Goodwill at Virginia Career Works, the fair offered more than 450 job opportunities. The fields represented included law enforcement, health care, customer service, manufacturing, information technology, warehouse work and transport of goods.

Among the employers at the job fair were Ridgid Products, Homestead Building Systems, Childhelp, Orange Pharmacy and My Gordonsville Pharmacy, Plow & Hearth, Aerojet Rocketdyne and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Bywaters-Baldwin is eager to help people find jobs, but he also wants everyone to know his office is available to help those who want to go back to school and retool their job skills. He said Virginia Career Works offers tuition grants up to $5,500 to people returning to school to enhance their job training and earn specialized certifications.

Further good news: Three-month, paid internships are available through Virginia Career Works. The hope, Bywaters-Baldwin said, is that the companies will hire the interns once they have completed their on-the-job training.

The open-air job fair was the brainchild of Rose Deal, project manager for Orange County’s Economic Development Authority. Deal said the prospect of an outside venue was “well received” by employers looking to participate in the job fair. “It’s nice that everybody can safely social-distance” during the pandemic. She added that she was grateful to the county’s parks and rec department for allowing the event to take place at Booster Park.

Like Bywaters-Baldwin, Deal is optimistic about the region’s employment market based on what she was seeing at the job fair. She said the employers actively seeking applicants “are ready and willing to hire people. They’ll provide on-the-job training, and they’re willing to take career-changers. They’re being very creative in the ways they’re thinking about bringing new people on.”

In the spirit of the day, she had a bit of advice for anyone on the job market: “Have an open mind. Think outside the box. You never know what opportunity is out there.”

For more information on job training, paid internships and tuition grants, call Virginia Career Works—Orange County Center at 661-3419 or go to

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Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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