EDC Delivers Hope And Opportunity To Lift Returning Citizens

Largo, MD - Today could very possibly be the first day of the rest of the lives of more than 300 returning citizens who packed into the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation's (EDC) headquarters this morning to take part in its '2nd Chance Job Fair'.  Over 25 employers with current job openings and willing to hire returning citizens participated in the Job Fair and held one-on-one interviews on site.  As the EDC continues its efforts to ensure that every resident of Prince George's County is gainfully employed, it dedicated the entire month of March as 'ReEntry Month' to assist the residents that are returning to Prince George's County after a period of incarceration.  EDC President and CEO Jim Coleman, joined by Workforce Development Director Walter Simmons, was among the local and state stakeholders in attendance to encourage the Job Fair attendees to keep pressing forward.
"This entire month has been dedicated to putting our returning citizens back to work," said Coleman. "Today, our talented returning citizens had the opportunity to put all of the training from this month's activities into practice. They aren't groveling and begging, they are representing themselves and showing how they can be an asset to the employers we have with us today. None of us deserves the blessings we have been given.  It is our duty to bless those who have fallen on hard times. Today, we are working on giving to others what is required of us. Those who were lost, are now found. Prince George's County's employers are blessed to have such a fantastic work pool to choose from."
The EDC's Workforce Services Division, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) operates the One Stop Career Center that allows local residents to get access to more than 18,000 jobs, training resource funding and career readiness training.  Barbara Ebel, the Regional Labor Exchange Administrator for DLLR thanked the employer partners being committed to providing job opportunities to returning citizens.
"I want to thank the EDC for their partnership with the 2nd Chance Job Fair. This is a great opportunity to channel our collective resources," said Ebel. "To our returning citizens, we are here for you.  We are here to support you and to make sure that you are successful in your abilities to attain a good job."
Calvin Hawkins, Senior Adviser to County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and Sydney Harrison, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Prince George's County stopped by the Job Fair and applauded EDC's efforts to secure a brighter future for the County's returning citizens.  The employers that took part in today's event were also happy to come and meet new talent. Many found that multiple job seekers were a good match because of certifications and licenses that they hold.
"We came to today's Job Fair looking for CDL drivers and we believe in second chances at Chaney Enterprises," said Victoria Hunter of Chaney Enterprises. "We have people from all walks of life that work for us. We don't discriminate against people because of their past imperfections as long as they're moving forward. I spoke to a lot of candidates today and a few people already had their CDL licenses. Some are looking to get their licenses through the training that the EDC provides. We are looking forward to hiring the talent that we met today."
The returning citizens also found today's Job Fair to be extremely helpful. In the midst of an environment in which many find it difficult to secure employment, today's Job Fair leveled the playing field.
"I am very proud of what Prince George's County and the State of Maryland is doing for returning citizens. It's been very hard for us to get jobs," said Lorenzo Cole. "It's a blessing for Mr. Goodson to reach out to us with all of these wonderful jobs. I have an interview with Keany Produce next week and that wouldn't have happened without this event."
Mr. Cole was one of many of today's Job Fair attendees who walked away with second interviews and conditional job offers. Walter Simmons explained that this is the realization of the mission of 'ReEntry Month'.
"Today, our returning citizens put their best foot forward," said Simmons. "Many walked out of the room with interviews and great employment prospects. In the Workforce Services world, we know the value of our returning citizens and what they can contribute to any work environment. Over 300 of our returning citizens came to today's event ready to jumpstart their career and cross the bridge to high-wage and long-term employment. This may be the end of 'ReEntry Month', but it's only the beginning. We're going to stick with our returning citizens until they reach their goals!"
For more information on how to identify job opportunities, register for job training and certification or career development workshops, contact Walter Simmons, Director of Workforce Development Services at 301-618-8400 or wsimmons@co.pg.md.us.