CRESTVIEW — Stacie Randolph, Jon Yates, Tech. Sgt. Rollin Rathburn, J.R. Reid and Jeffrey Moore are among hundreds of jobseekers whose chances of new employment rose Wednesday morning.
By the end of the Veterans Job Fair at the Crestview Community Center, nearly 400 regional residents — many clutching folders packed with resumes — had visited 35 area employers’ booths.
The fair, sponsored by JobsPlus and the Workforce Development Board of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, was open to any resident, though an additional 20 booths were staffed by organizations offering services specific to military members and their families.
Attendees represented a cross section of the military and civilian community. Randolph and Yates are Air Force veterans. Rathburn will retire from the Air Force in September.
Reid is a former Marine’s eldest son, and Moore, who has no military affiliation, was looking for a better job to support his young family. He is expecting his first child in September.
"I'm waiting to hear from a couple businesses I talked to," Moore said after speaking to recruiters from Lowe's and Winn-Dixie. "I like trying something new. I like to challenge myself."
Yates, who will move to Crestview with his family in the next several weeks, seemed optimistic after the job fair.
"I made some good contacts this morning," he said. "We're looking forward to settling here. It's a wonderful community. I've seen nothing but good things here."
"I'm finding a lot of opportunities," Randolph said. "I'm happy about that."
Reid, a 2013 Crestview High graduate, said he was offered an interview for an opening at the state correctional facility. The state and county Departments of Corrections hosted booths at the fair.
Jennifer Cantrell of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said the agency talked to several qualified applicants, including Rathburn.
"We're excited to have some potential openings for these folks," she said. "Most have that initial security background, so transitioning into this job is fairly painless for them."
"We've taken a lot of applications from good, qualified people," said Misty Elliott, a subcontractor liaison with Oliver's Landscaping and Nursery in Holt.
"We've had a fabulous turnout," JobsPlus military family employment advocate Rita Smith said. "The employers are pleased with the quality of applicants they're seeing."
Employers ranged from defense contractors including L3 Crestview Aerospace, Cygnus Aerospace and InDyne; and law enforcement agencies including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement.
Retailers included Wal-Mart, Waffle House and Tom Thumb. School representatives included Northwest Florida State College, the University of West Florida and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Service employers included Eglin Federal Credit Union, Regions Bank, Resort Quest and Crestview Rehabilitation.
"I've seen a lot of good applicants," Sgt. Heather Campbell of the Florida Department of Corrections said. "This has been a very successful event for us."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.