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Drive-thru job fairs offer local opportunities as CARES Act unemployment relief expires
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Drive-thru job fairs offer local opportunities as CARES Act unemployment relief expires

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Job fair

Many job centers remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but state workforce development boards are hosting drive-thru job fairs for job seekers.

Job seekers in Wisconsin can find employment opportunities while never leaving their vehicles July 15 at drive-thru job fairs put on by regional workforce development boards.

At the job fairs, participants can drive through one of several locations around the state — including in Madison, Janesville, Beloit and Monroe — to pick up packets with information on job openings in industries from manufacturing to health care and from construction to hospitality.

Each of Wisconsin’s 11 regional workforce development boards will hold these drive-up events from noon to 4 p.m. July 15. The intent is to help people who are out of work as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and some federal aid is expiring, said Jeff Westra, business services manager of the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin.

Because of the pandemic, many of the state’s job centers have temporarily closed, leaving job seekers fewer options and resources. While many services can be found online, Westra said the boards also want to help people who don’t often use or don’t have access to computers and the internet.

“We’re just trying to be proactive, and this was the only option we could think of” while following public health guidelines for the pandemic, Westra said.

Through the end of July, those on unemployment will continue to receive an extra $600 each week as part of the federal CARES Act, but that relief funding is set to end at the end of the month. For many who are unemployed, that will slash their income by half or more.

“We, as a group, saw that as a potential issue,” Westra said of the regional boards.

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The job-fair packets — which will also include information about available resources for job seekers, such as the WorkSmart program — will be placed into drivers’ trunks, Westra said. Staff at the locations will also practice public health guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

At the Madison location — Warner Park, 2930 N. Sherman Ave. — there will also be walk-up and bike-up options to pick up packets, Westra said. The job fairs in Beloit, Janesville and Monroe will also have walk-up areas.

“After so many months of being in gridlock, it’s nice to be able to do something to help our community,” Westra said.

Businesses looking to hire can submit one-page fliers with information on the company, currently available positions, directions on how to apply and more. Submissions are due Wednesday.

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