The fair showcased job opportunities within Plant City to graduating students.
Some came with résumés, some came with questions and intrigue. All left with knowledge of opportunities for the future in Plant City.
The 2017 Plant City Future Fair was held at the John R. Trinkle Center at Hillsborough Community College Tuesday, April 18. After an inaugural event for Plant City High School students last year, this year’s expo with over 40 vendors was open to over 500 students from all area high schools.
Organized by the Plant City High School Raider Champions Board, the goal of the event was to show students that there are opportunities for careers and a sustainable future in Plant City, even for those entering the workforce for the first time.
In addition to local vendors that included Hillsborough Title, Stingray Chevrolet, Star Distribution Systems and Hillsborough Community College, students head from keynote speakers and leaders. The expo was attended by Mayor Rick Lott, Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Hillsborough County District 4 School Board Member Melissa Snively.
“Plant City saw the need,” Yvonne Fry, who serves on the board of Raider Champions, said. “This is grassroots. This is our community organizing this and providing opportunities.”
As students walked from vendor to vendor, they were able to learn about the job opportunities available to them and the skills necessary for the workforce.
At Star Distribution Systems, located on Henderson Way, new employees have the opportunity to earn $11 per hour while earning a weekly bonus of $40. Additionally, Star employees have overtime opportunities and paid vacation.
A college degree for some employers isn’t a necessity. For jobs including forklift operators and mechanics, the education requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent.
For Plant City Economic Development Corp. President Jake Austin, the goal of the event was to encourage students to continue to push themselves after they cross the stage at their high school graduation.
“Starting this at the high school level is unique to Plant City,” Austin said. “Hopefully, this is an eye-opener for students. Hopefully they’ll think, ‘The day I receive my diploma is not a time to relax. It’s time to get a job.’ The opportunities here in Plant City are not to miss.”
Austin commended businesses in the community for choosing to invest in students who were ready to enter the workforce.
“A lot of companies might think it’s tough to get employees involved when they’re entry-level,” he said. “What Plant City
businesses have realized is that the person they hire will grow to become the ideal employee down the road.”
Mayor Rick Lott said that he saw both students and employers investing in one another during the 2017 fair.
“What’s nice about this is that before the seniors graduate, they’re getting a leg up on the job market,” Lott said. “I’ve seen people today setting up interviews with employers. I’m excited to see our students joining the workforce.”
Snively added that she would like to see the fair expand to other Hillsborough County schools in the future.
“I would love for it to expand all over and in different parts of the county,” Snively said. “It’s really a great educational experience for the kids, and hopefully it inspires them. Hopefully they realize they can be anything.”
Contact Emily Topper at [email protected].