LENOIR, NC (WBTV) - Nicole Powell used to be a police officer.
"The four years that I did it, I loved it," she says.
But on Thursday morning at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir, she's just one of 2,000 standing in line for a chance to meet with hiring companies. She lost her job about a month ago, but she knows she's hardly alone.
"Obviously, there are so many people in Caldwell County that are out of work, and they are struggling to make ends meet," Powell says. "They don't have a way to support their families, and this at least gives them a little bit of hope."
Actually, the job fair should give them a lot of hope. This is the fourth of its kind here since 2010. And at all of the previous events, Economic Development Commission of Caldwell County Vice Chair William Howard had a hard time getting companies to come. The difference this year, he says, "we have jobs. We have multitudes of jobs.
Lenoir and Hickory-based companies say they will fill 700 positions either now or within the next three months.
Peggy Bird is with the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board, and she says it's thrilling to know this many companies are hiring again, but seeing all these people looking for work is sobering too.
"I have mixed feelings," she says, "because I'm glad they're hear but it's also sad that there's this many people that are searching for jobs."
Employers who attended the fair include:
American General Life & Accident Insurance Company
Caldwell Memorial Hospital
Catawba Valley Staffing
Express Employment Professionals
Foothills Temporary Employment
NC Department of Public Safety-Adult Corrections
Randall Miller Trucking
Trinity Hope and Associates
Bemis Contract Group
Blue Ridge Tissue Corporation
Bernhardt Furniture Company
Carolina Prime Pets
Exela Pharma Sciences
Fairfield Chair Company
Sealed Air Corporation