Relief is on its way to many unemployed residents of Scott County. Tuesday marked the start of a two-day job fair, aimed at putting more than 100 people back to work.
At 18.3%, Scott County's unemployment rate ranks among the highest in the state. There are 1,540 unemployed residents.
McKinley Harness of Pioneer is one of those residents. He has been unemployed since Leonard Aluminum Utility Buildings closed its shop in Oneida in August of 2009.
Harness is one of hundreds hoping the job fair will provide relief.
"I'm trying to get a job. None around here, maybe I can find one," he said.
"We have over 30 Scott County employers hoping to employ anywhere from one to ten people through the jobs creation package," said Scott County Mayor Rick Keeton.
150 positions are available. They are part of the federal stimulus package and are funded through September. Fifty are with the department of transportation. Others are in the public sector as well, including positions with Scott County Schools.
The majority of jobs though are from the private sector. Employers looking to hire include Saint Mary's Hospital and the Boys and Girls Club.
"We are hopeful that a large number of those will continue to be employed after this program is over and will result in full-time employment for these folks," said Jay Willoughby with the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency.
"That's great news for our ears. If we could just retain 75 or 80 out of the 150, this has been a tremendous benefit to the county and those people seeking to work here locally," Keeton said.
It comes as good news to those looking for work as well.
"Can't look no worse. It's got to get a little bit better," Harness said.
The job fair will continue Wednesday between 10:00 and 4:00 at the Scott County office building. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements.
All must be residents of Scott County. A family's income cannot be greater than 133% of the federal poverty level ($2,030/month for a family of three; $2,444/month for a family of four), and liquid resources cannot exceed $2,000. In addition, residents must have a child younger than 18 years old living in their household.