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    Thomas Wisdom and his wife Wendy were among those seeking career options during the first Burleson Works Expo at Venue 510. Burleson Star/Richard Allen

First Burleson Works expo a success

 Burleson Works, and the plan is to put even more people to work in the city and surrounding area.

The first Burleson Works Expo was held Jan. 18, at Venue 510. The event drew 11 businesses and three colleges with displays and officials to discuss career opportunities with interested folks.

“It’s a national thing, we hear of a skills cap,” said Alex Philips, economic development manager for the city of Burleson. “Jobs go away. Baby boomers retire and companies are having trouble finding people to fill those gaps.
“I equate it to building your own farm system in baseball. People go to college and then they come to work for your company.”

The Burleson Works program matches specific jobs that companies in Burleson are going to need filled. They offer scholarships for residents to learn those jobs. The Expo served as an education/introduction of the program, along with a view of the types of businesses and jobs they offer.
Businesses on display included:
*KWS Manufacturing Company.
*F-Wave Residential Roofing.
*Hayes & Stoltz Industrial Manufacturing Company.
*LKQ Recycled Salvaged Vehicles.
*DEEM Structural Steel Fabricators.
*Wagner-Smith Equipment Company.
*United Cooperative Services.
*Workforce Solutions.
*Ren Web, A Facts Company.
*Family Toyota.
*Carstar Auto Body Repair.
 Colleges with displays included:
*Texas State Technical College.
*Hill College.
*Tarrant County College.

“We’re one of the largest industrial employers in Johnson County,”  Bill Mecke, president of KWS, said. “We need skilled labor, and we want to help the people closest to us, the local people.

“We want to keep the money local. Drive around the city on a Friday or Saturday night. Every restaurant is full. That’s local people spending local money.”

Kayla Kelly, dean of career and technical education at Hill College, said the event is “a great way to get the word out about technical programs.”

“The interest in citizens wanting to change careers or get into a technical career is what we’re here for,” Kelly said. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest today.

“This is a great program and partnership for the city, employers and the college as well. We look forward to it continuing.”

Kacey Darnell, executive director of career services for Texas State Technical College, said her display also drew a lot of interest.

“The City of Burleson connecting their industry with education partners is a great idea,” Darnell said. “We’ve had a lot of people stop by, whether it’s non-traditional folks looking for a career change or traditional students starting out.
“I have enjoyed the partnership with the city and members of industry.”

While the event was an opportunity for businesses and colleges to show themselves, it was also a chance for those seeking employment to introduce themselves as they shopped around. One of those was 47-year-old Thomas Wisdom, who has a degree in biology from Texas A&M but is just seeking work.

“It brings all the employers together and gives me different avenues of approach,” he said.

Wisdom said he had worked in security for a long time before his current status. He said the event gave him optimism.

Brendon Schooley, 23, recently worked for almost six years at the Texas Department of Public Safety in the drivers license bureau. He also tried selling cars. He was at the event looking for a change in career direction.

“I think this is a great thing,” Schooley said. “It’s a great way to get the names out for people who need a job - like me, and these are not just jobs, they are careers.”

Philips said he was pleased with the first Burleson Works Expo and plans to continue the event in future years.

“Absolutely, it can’t be a one-year thing,” he said. “It has to be something we can build upon. These companies that call Burleson home, if they can get people to live here and work here for them, everybody wins.
“This program sets us apart from other communities. It’s a big team effort, and everybody has the same goal - to put people to work in Burleson.”

For more information on the Burleson Works program, visit http://burlesonoppfund.com/burleson-works/    

Burleson Star

327 N.W. Renfro St.
PO Box 909
Burleson, TX 76028-0909

Phone: 817-295-0486
FAX: 817-295-5278



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