Bowling alley preps for massive job fair turnout

KINGMAN - Staff and volunteers at Cerbat Lanes are preparing for a huge turnout Wednesday morning, with upwards of 300 local unemployed expected to show up for the first in a 12-week series of job fairs, complete with free bowling.

Nine local employers and five employment assistance agencies are booked for tomorrow's fair, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the bowling alley at 3631 Stockton Hill Road. As the fairs continue each Wednesday from now through April, Cerbat's assistant manager Yvonne Davis said employers will come and go, though there will be significant overlap from week to week.

"Our lowest number is seven employers, and that's in the seventh week," Davis said. "The second and third week are going to have eleven, and that's just right now -

I'm still getting calls."

While only about 50 unemployed were registered for the fairs two weeks ago, Davis said radio and newspaper announcements boosted that number to more than 150 by Monday morning, and she fully expects double that to show up in person Wednesday, regardless of whether they registered or not.

But that shouldn't be a problem since the job fair's coordinator, Rusty Hanna, has no intention of turning anyone away.

"If we've got to move out into the parking lot, we're moving," Hanna said. "I don't know what to expect, but I think it's going to be a huge crowd."

When unemployed arrive, Davis said the first thing they'll see are registration tables where each attendee will be expected to fill out a card with detailed contact information, including the last time they were employed. Once they're registered, attendees can bowl, speak to the employers present, or visit the various job assistance booths set up across the concourse.

"The Department of Economic Security will be there, Arizona Workforce will be there, Mohave One Stop will be there, and they'll all have their computers hooked to the Internet," Hanna said. "Resume writers will be there to help you write resumes, and there's going to be people there to talk and teach how to interview as well."

More than 30 local volunteers have offered to help guide the fair attendees from booth to booth to make sure they find what they're looking for. Additionally, each of the alley's 24 lanes will be open for free bowling to all registrants.

With many employers still squeezed by the tight economy, it remains to be seen just how many jobs will result from the fairs. But Davis is confident Kingman can easily surpass the 50 jobs that were created by a similar job fair series Hanna started in Battle Creek, Mich., last year.

"We want to beat that number, and I think we can," Davis said. "I think it'll grow as the weeks go by and as word gets out, and I'm definitely tracking everything we do so I can give exact numbers when we're done."

In the meantime, employers and prospective employees alike are still welcome to sign up for the fair series. For more information, contact Davis at (928) 692-1818.