Abundant employment options at Detroit Lakes job fair

Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program hosted a job fair Thursday, May 6, at M State in Detroit Lakes with more than 25 regional employers and multiple openings at each company. As more pandemic unemployment benefits expire in coming months, now is the time to take advantage of a variety of employment options, one event organizer said.

Annie Van Hunnik, right, stops by the Mahube-Otwa display table during a job fair at M State on May 6, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

The regional job fair in Detroit Lakes showcased more openings than applicants at an outdoor event hosted by Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program.

With more than 25 regional employers on hand in the M State parking lot on May 6, applicants saw competitive wages, signing bonuses and attendance incentive programs offered as a way employers tried to draw in more employees, said Kelley Nowell, team leader for the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program.

"These are important for the employers and the job seekers," said Nowell. "So (applicants) can get out, find out who's hiring, what kind of employers are in the area, find out what's available and see how it would fit their schedule, their lifestyle."

The fair featured employers from different industries including: food service, manufacturing, health care and education.

"We could've easily had 50 more employers," she said.


Becker County's unemployment rate fell to 5.3% in March compared to a pandemic high of 9.8% in April 2020.

Overall, 948 Becker County residents were collecting unemployment as of March 2021. In 2019, the county's unemployment rate fluctuated between 2.4% in September to 6.2% in January.

"Wage are fantastic, so as unemployment (assistance) ends, now is the time to get out there and find the job you want," said Nowell. "So come and pick what you want now while there is so much out there, that's going to work for you, rather than wait until maybe you have to take something you weren't as excited to take."
The Rural Minnesota CEP helps all job seekers from age 14 to 100, she said. If any applicant is looking for help with resume writing, interview skills, or they want to learn a new job skill, Nowell encouraged them to stop by the office for free counseling at 803 Roosevelt Avenue in Detroit Lakes.

Some event attendees were passers-by; drawn to the fair by the balloons and signs.

"We were out geocaching," said Annie Van Hunnik, an event attendee.

She, and her friend, saw the event while looking for "treasure" and made their way through the tables collecting free items from each of the displays.

Many of the employers were looking for at least a dozen applicants with varying levels of experience.

  • Central Market was seeking between 15 to 20 applicants for part-time positions throughout the grocery store with entry level positions starting at $11 per hour.
  • Alderon Industries, panel and switch manufacturing, was seeking 10 applicants with entry level positions starting at $14 per hour.
  • Menards was trying to fill between 15 to 20 openings with part-time employees starting at $16 per hour and full-time at $17.50. The company also offers attendances bonuses up to $500 for employees that work every scheduled shift for a month and a half.
  • BTD Manufacturing was seeking to fill 50 openings across all three shifts and weekends. Entry level jobs start at $19.04 per hour and include a $2,000 signing bonus. BTD recruiters said they have hired anyone from bank tellers to experienced manufacturing professionals.
  • Jennie-O food processing was seeking to fill between 30 to 40 openings with entry level positions starting at $16 per hour.
  • Polaris in Roseau, Minn., was looking to fill nearly 200 openings. Polaris recruiters said many of the employees start on the assembly line and work their way up from there. Entry level positions start at $17.14 per hour and $18.44 for second shift.
  • The city of Detroit Lakes was also seeking part-time and full-time applicants for various positions. Part-time employees start at $14.76 per hour and full-time administrative and maintenance staffers start at $45,000 per year.

Event organizers said they had no plans to hold another job fair in 2021, but, if the local employers wanted another event, they would try to make it happen.


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