Thursday, April 19, 2018
Business

Hope is the buzzword at St. Petersburg job fair

About 3,000 people streamed through a job fair in downtown St. Petersburg on Thursday, visual proof that Tampa Bay is still stuck in an employment crisis.

But interviews with a handful of employers and job seekers revealed an optimism in the new year that the tide has turned: More companies are hiring again or hiring more than they were a year ago.

Steven Alston is among those convinced the worst has passed.

After several visits to the bay area over the past four years, Alston, 49, sold his home in Raleigh, N.C., closed his consulting business and relocated here with his wife about five weeks ago.

"I thought this was a good time to test the job market down here," he said as he scanned some of the 50-plus booths inside The Coliseum. "What I'm finding is there appears to be a lot of opportunities."

Over the past year, Tampa Bay's unemployment rate has steadily receded, from a peak of 12.6 percent to 10.3 percent. That doesn't include thousands of exasperated workers who have stopped looking for work or can find only part-time work.

Nevertheless, it's a move in the right direction.

Casey Cochran, 26, of Safety Harbor was enthused to find at least three companies with IT job openings that suited him. "I've been working at Walmart the last four years and now I'm hoping to get a real job," he said, hoping his recent computer training pays off.

Among companies dangling job openings were a trio of hotels: the Loews Don CeSar Hotel, Sirata Beach Resort and Tradewinds Island Resorts.

"We're ramping up for the season starting in March," said Vivian Amadeo, director of human resources for the Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach. "Now is when we hire and start training so workers will be ready."

Paul Garcia, a recruiter for Raymond James Financial, said the St. Petersburg financial services firm has 140 open positions — from IT jobs to financial analysts to security guards. "With the new year, everybody has the benefit of playing with their budgets (so) we're doing a lot of hiring right now," he said.

Even some manufacturers were trolling for workers.

Arne Swanson, vice president and general manager of Prima Die Casting, said the Clearwater tool and die company was looking for a half-dozen entry-level workers. The 56-employee company tends to fluctuate with the economy, swinging from a pre-recession high of 130 employees to a low of 35 a couple of years ago.

This year, Swanson sees some auto-related orders picking up and government contracts falling off slightly. It will probably be a net positive, but not by much.

"It's a sense of some steps forward and some steps back," he said. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

The job fair was organized by the Tampa Bay Times.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or [email protected]

Comments
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Those who use mass transit across the Tampa Bay area can ride for free on Sunday.To celebrate Earth Day, both the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will be offering free rides on Su...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Wells Fargo said to be target of $1 billion fine

Wells Fargo said to be target of $1 billion fine

Federal regulators are poised to impose a $1 billion penalty on Wells Fargo for a number of alleged misdeeds, including forcing customers to buy auto insurance policies that they didn’t need, according to people briefed on the regulatory action. The ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

TAMPA — At the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, hotelier Ian Schrager transformed a Jazz Age building with its own rich history into a destination offering even more heady experiences — extravagant, edgy and bohemian.In Tampa, Schrager will have...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tech Data names Rich Hume to take over as CEO

Tech Data names Rich Hume to take over as CEO

CLEARWATER — A longtime IBM executive is becoming the new leader of Tampa Bay’s largest public company. Tech Data on Thursday named Richard "Rich" Hume as its new CEO effective June 6. Hume joined Tech Data two years ago and is currently the chief op...
Updated: 9 hours ago
LA Fitness tones up Hillsborough location

LA Fitness tones up Hillsborough location

When LA Fitness on West Hillsborough Ave. reopens mid-summer, it will have undergone a $5 million renovation and a complete transformation. Closed since November 2017, the 10-year-old facility was completely torn down and is still undergoing construc...
Published: 04/19/18
Kids have fun and gain coding skills at Code Ninja in Westchase

Kids have fun and gain coding skills at Code Ninja in Westchase

A new program that teaches coding to kids is coming to the Tampa Bay area. Code Ninjas is a Houston-based franchise that is opening its first location in Westchase in early May. There are plans for other centers in Carrollwood, South Tampa, New Tampa...
Published: 04/19/18
Graze all day at Armature Works

Graze all day at Armature Works

TAMPA HEIGHTS— Graze 1910 upholds the comfortable and relaxing, yet elegant setting of Armature Works with its "comfort food" offerings and dedication to serving breakfast all day."It’s the way I eat. I graze all day," said owner Raymond "Ray" Menend...
Published: 04/19/18