Business expo returns to convention center with strong showing

·3 min read

Sep. 21—Calhoun resident Tony Wayne said after enjoying an extended summer vacation he thought it was time to find a job. That's what brought him Wednesday to the Dalton Convention Center to the annual Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

"I graduated high school a few months ago," he said. "I figured there would be a lot of companies here, some of them might be hiring. Maybe I could look around and see what's out there."

So is anyone hiring?

"I say most of them are," he said. "I got some good information on what's available and how to apply."

Beth Morrison, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce vice president for member services, said there were 154 exhibitors at the expo.

"That is right up there with our pre-(COVID-19) pandemic numbers," she said.

The chamber canceled the 2020 expo because of the pandemic. It held the 2021 expo outdoors.

"We are so happy to be back at the Dalton Convention Center this year," Morrison said.

Wayne wasn't the only person who came to the expo to see what jobs might be out there.

"We are recruiting from the vendors," said Marilyn Helms, dean of Dalton State College's C. Lamar and Ann Wright School of Business. "We are looking to see if they might want to hire some Dalton State students. I think all of them are interested."

Dalton Fire Department Chief Todd Pangle said his department had a booth set up to educate people about the department and about fire safety. He said they were also fielding questions from people interested in employment.

"We always say we are looking for someone interested in a career, not just a job," he said. "Maybe we'll find the next Dalton Fire Department firefighter here today."

Dalton Municipal Airport Manager Andrew Wiersma and other airport staff were manning a booth, talking to people about the airport.

"We are trying to raise awareness about the airport, make some business connections," Wiersma said. "We have a lot of corporate aviation related to the carpet industry. We've just started a flight school."

Pamela Cudd, director of City of Refuge Dalton, and Brian Croft, director of operations at City of Refuge Dalton, were talking to people about the services the organization provides.

City of Refuge Dalton was founded in 1995. It provides services to low-income families and others in need, including a food pantry, a clothing store, education programs for both children and adults, and hot meals. Funding comes from individuals and businesses in the community.

One area the agency has been emphasizing is its food bank.

"Right now, there's a strong need for food," said Croft. "Prices are rising, making it harder for people to afford. Agencies are seeing their resources stretched thin."

City of Refuge Dalton said last year its food bank served 2,059 senior citizens and 2,244 families in the Greater Dalton area.

Volunteers from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia were in attendance to raise awareness of the work the society does.

"We are in desperate need of volunteers," said Annette LaFuze. "We always welcome donations. We work to help animals find forever homes, and we are always eager to promote spaying and neutering."