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PUBLISHED: 4:00 PM on Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Fairs are great place for new start

Local business people will tell you that their single biggest challenge is finding and keeping good employees.

Good people are the lifeblood of good companies. Fact is, there are no good companies without good leaders and good team members. Yet good people are hard to find. Many larger employers here have dozens of positions open and waiting for the right people.

If you looked in last week's paper, you saw dozens of local businesses honoring their employees for Labor Day. It's not just about business.

Good employers really do care about their people, their vision and their company heritage.

Southeast Alaska is a tough place to do business. Materials, shipping, energy and labor are all expensive. Yet it's also a great place to do business, with unlimited opportunity for entrepreneurs, and employees, willing to set a high standard, provide great products and service, and have fun doing it.

The paradox is you'll also often hear that in the Southeast good jobs are hard to find. This is not a metro area with unlimited or easy access, or with new companies constantly entering the market.

And with our cost of living, among the highest in America, not just any job will do.

Finding and providing good jobs, and good careers, is also critical to the future of Southeast Alaska's young people. While there's some debate about whether Alaska suffers from a "brain drain," there's no doubt that many young adults leave the state to pursue careers down south. Not because they want to, but because they can't find a job that will enable them to afford the cost of living here.

Yet there are growing technology and service industries that will need those bright minds in the future.

So you see the disconnect-matching up good jobs with good people.

That's why Labor Commissioner Greg O'Claray has put such a premium on programs to train young Alaskans, starting in high school, for the vast array of technology and trade careers the state will need in the coming years. In particular, if a gas pipeline is in our future, there are going to be thousands of high-paying construction jobs looking for skilled people.

That's where we come in.

Over the past two years the Juneau Job Center and our company's newspapers have teamed up to provide more information about jobs and more tools for employers. And at least twice each year we've hosted job fairs for employers and job seekers.

On Saturday, Sept. 23 the Juneau Job Center and Juneau Empire are hosting the annual Fall Job Fair at Centennial Hall in Juneau. The Fair runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include dozens of companies and agencies with jobs to fill. It's a great place to find a job, but also to gather information about careers in Southeast Alaska.

For employers it can also be a great place to find new people. The deadline for employers to register for the Fair is this week.

Call 907-523-2224 or 523-2229, or www.juneauempire.com/jobfair/ for more information and to sign up. There's also information about the Fair and all Job Center services at the Center, in the Valley nine miles from downtown Juneau on Glacier Highway, and on the Job Center Web site at www.jobs.state.ak.us/.

Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weekly and advertising director of the Juneau Empire. Email him at lee.leschper@juneau empire.com.


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