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Melissa Martin handles the Hardee’s vendor booth Wednesday during the regional job fair. It was sponsored by the Job Assistance Center, Virginia Employment Commission, and Greensville County.

Southern Virginia’s largest employers were on hand Wednesdayfor the Regional Job Fair, sponsored by the Job Assistance Center, Virginia Employment Commission, and Greensville County at Golden Leaf Commons in Emporia.

Typically a twice-annual event, the Job Fair is returning indoors for the first time in over a year. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the previous two events were held outdoors at Veterans Memorial Park.

“We’ve only been open a few minutes and we already have over 30 job seekers coming in,” said Sherry Pearson from the Job Assistance Center. “Hopefully it’ll be a good day, we’ll get a lot of job seekers, and employers will get a lot of job positions filled.”

A total of 56 employers held booths at the fair, offering over 800 job openings between them. These ranged from Greensville County’s own Oran Safety Glass and P&S Transportation, to large national chains such as Wal-Mart, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Hardee’s.

Others came from much farther afield, including Grand Canyon University, the for-profit online college with branches all over the United States. The U.S. Army and Marines also recruited at the event.

Prospective nurses in the Greensville County area had no shortage of places to show their resumes. Ten different organizations who held booths at the fair, including the Brunswick County Public School system, recruited for a nursing position of some kind.

While hospitals and health organizations have faced well-documented staff shortages and turnover during the pandemic, they aren’t the only ones. Among most of the larger businesses recruiting at the job fair, there was a general theme — too many vacancies, not enough applicants.

“It’s been very challenging in our field,” said Melissa Martin, recruiting for the Hardee’s in Emporia. “But we use a lot of modern technology to be able to find the candidates that we need.”

“We have to do a lot more to get people, because we need many more people,” said Stephanie Blacknall, recruiting for the Wal-Mart in Franklin. “It’s incredibly hard because everyone is hiring. Everyone’s offering incentives. Everyone’s doing something different to get people.”