Local News

ConAgra holds job fair for Garner workers

Posted March 30, 2011 1:49 p.m. EDT
Updated March 30, 2011 7:15 p.m. EDT

— ConAgra held a private job fair Wednesday for employees who will be left without work when a plant in Garner closes later this spring.

About 400 workers will be let go over the next few months as ConAgra shuts down production at the plant, which was struck a natural gas explosion that killed four people in June 2009.

"It's bad, but that's the deal we get," said plant employee Doretta Knox. "Take one day at a time."

The plant, which makes Slim Jim beef jerky products, will close on May 20.

About 20 potential employers met with ConAgra workers at a job fair exclusively for them Wednesday. Most of the employers were in manufacturing, and they included Kellogg's, Butterball, Time Warner Cable, the state Department of Correction and the towns of Garner and Benson.

"I'd like to find another job at least somewhere similar like this, that pays as good as this," said plant employee Tim Burns.

Some of the plant's employees have worked at ConAgra since high school and have never had to write a resume, said plant manager David Sweeney, so he called in Wake Technical Community College to assist employees in resume-writing, interview and computer skills.

"It's been amazing to watch the family here galvanize over the last couple of years, ever since the incident, and really see them come together as a family," Sweeney said.

ConAgra also plans to donate the 450,000-square-foot plant and the surrounding 106 acres to the town to help attract a new manufacturer.

ConAgra reopened the plant two months after the explosion but, because of diminished production capacity, laid off 300 workers that fall. Production done at the plant will be shifted to Troy, Ohio.