South Holland job fair helps launch Cook County program to connect employers and job seekers – Chicago Tribune

With a job fair at South Suburban College in South Holland as the backdrop, Cook County officials on Tuesday announced the launch of a program designed to connect employers in the suburbs of the Cook County with residents seeking employment.

The Cook County Career Connector program is being funded with $15 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds, and more job fairs are planned for next month in Richton Park and Chicago Heights.

The goal is to promote a more inclusive and equitable economy in suburban Chicago as the region emerges from the pandemic, with employers reporting difficulties filling jobs.

The program is intended to steer residents into “decent, well-paying jobs,” Cook County Council Chairman Toni Preckwinkle said at Tuesday’s launch.

The South Suburban College job fair brought together more than 30 private and public sector employers, including Amazon, which has opened fulfillment centers in Markham, Matteson and University Park. Other employers included Cook County Health, National Tube Supply and Pace, the commuter bus system, according to the county.

Cook County uses funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, and plans large-scale job fairs as well as smaller events that may target certain populations, including youth and veterans. , depending on the county.

A job fair is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 15 at Richton Park Community Center, 4455 Sauk Trail, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 30 at Prairie State College, 202 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights.

Interested employers and job seekers can register for upcoming events at

With employers reporting difficulties filling jobs, some who are in the job market are being stranded due to previous criminal convictions, said Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore, D-4e.

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“It’s hard to find a job,” said Moore, whose district includes Calumet City, Dolton, Lansing and South Holland.

He asked employers to consider applicants whose backgrounds aren’t perfect, such as those with criminal convictions early in life.

“Open your doors to people who don’t have the best records,” Moore said. “I shouldn’t be punished again today for something I did 20 years ago.”

Career fairs will be held through October in conjunction with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which has been around for 10 years and works to match job seekers with employers.

One of the goals of the Career Connector program will be to “promote inclusive hiring,” said Patrick Combs, the partnership’s acting chief executive.

The employers the partnership works with “we know they are in desperate need of talent,” Combs said.

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Ryan H. Bowman