HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) - The offer of 250 jobs at Zeeland-based Gentex drew close to 1,200 people to a job fair in Holland Wednesday.
"I was a little shocked when I got here," job seeker Margaret Vavere said. The former school administrative assistant was at the fair around midday. Gentex vice president Bruce Los said he arrived around 5:45 a.m.
"We had a nice group of people already wondering where the line was going to start," he said.
The manufacturer, which is looking for around 150 line workers and roughly 100 engineers, ended up renting some additional space in the hotel where the job fair was held "just so we could get everybody in out of the cold," Los said.
The company also brought in extra interviewers to accommodate the crowd.
With Gentex's hiring underway, two battery plants coming online, a food company expansion and Herman Miller's plans for additional hires, 2011 is poised to be a job-growth year for Ottawa County, according to Randy Thelen, president of economic development group Lakeshore Advantage.
To the east, a new forecast out Wednesday called for 0.8% job growth in 2011 for metro Grand Rapids -- Kent, Barry, Ionia and Newaygo counties -- and another 1.1% growth in 2012. The forecast was released by George Erickcek of the W.E. Upjohn Insitute for Employment Research at an event hosted by economic development group The Right Place.
Vavere, who lives in Grandville, said she was hoping for much more growth than that.
After more than 300 job applications, Vavere said she's only been interviewed for four positions.
With unemployment still at 10 percent in metro Grand Rapids and above 10 percent in Ottawa County, she said she's fortunate that her husband still has work to support the family.
"I'm still blessed," she said. "There's so many people out there. I don't know how they're making it."
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has condemned GOP National Committeeman Dave Agema's statement that gay people are seeking health insurance for same-sex partners because they are dying of AIDS and want free medical care.
The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature has passed a law banning almost all abortion coverage from health insurance plans unless an additional policy is bought.
Thermotron Industries, a business that's been located in Holland for more than 40 years, was raided by the FBI Wednesday morning.