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FARMINGTON – Four Corners Economic Development officials hope a jobs event Saturday spells opportunity for the many displaced workers in San Juan County.

Several economic development and business development groups, along with college officials, investment advisers and local employers, will be on hand to help guide laid-off workers into new jobs or retraining at the Real People Real Jobs Opportunity Expo at the Quality Center for Business at San Juan College Saturday morning.

Ray Hagerman, 4CED's CEO, said that the hundreds of local oilfield workers let go from full-time, relatively high-salaried jobs last year will be the main target group for the event, but that many people may come from various related industries or suffer from underemployment and need assistance starting in a new direction.

"What we're trying to do is create an opportunity fair, not just another job fair," Hagerman said. "Not only are there going to be people like the displaced oilfield workers that we'll see some matches made there, but there are some people who may have been around awhile, and they are looking to buy or start a business or semi-retire, and they need someone to help advise them. We want to provide all those things in a one-stop place."

Starting at 9 a.m., employers like the Raytheon Co., 5 Star Security, Riley Industrial Services Inc., the Arizona Public Service Co., the Public Service Company of New Mexico, the Farmington Muncipal School District and the Central Consolidated School District will be interviewing candidates and offering information on ongoing projects and plans.

Christa Rommé, the 4CED marketing coordinator who is chairing the event, said the employers at the event were selected specifically to address recent layoffs and others who may be considering their next move.

"We felt really badly and wanted to directly help all these people being laid off, and there's a lot of opportunity there for us to reach out to those people," Rommé said.

One of those employers that will be looking for workers at the expo is the Sundt Construction Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-based general contractor hired to oversee the $635 million retrofitting project at the Four Corners Power Plant, located 15 miles west of here near Fruitland.

Rommé said Sundt Construction is looking to hire many workers in the next few weeks and a total of 450 workers in roughly 20 categories, including pipe fitters and welders, by June. Those jobs should last a minimum of two or three years, she said.

Overall, the free event will offer people a step forward, whether it be transitioning to a new job, starting a new business or investing in a business, Hagerman said.

"As hurtful as it is to the community that we've lost hundreds of jobs to the oilfield, there is the bright spot in this kind of process with so much retrofitting work at (the Four Corners Power Plant and the San Juan Generating Station) that, ultimately, we should be able to keep hundreds of people going," he said. "It's not a complete offset, but it helps."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

More information

What: Real People Real Jobs Opportunity Expo

When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 9

Where: The Quality Center for Business, San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd., in Farmington

Cost: Free

More info: Call 505-566-3618 or send email to cromme@4cornersed.com

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