Read the article by Chris Slater on WV News.
MORGANTOWN — The conference room of the Marriott Waterfront Place Hotel was bustling with conversation, and opportunity. A job fair organized for the employees affected by the announced layoffs at the former Mylan Pharmaceuticals plant was held Thursday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., with representatives from more than 60 employers present.
Russ Rogerson, president and CEO of the Morgantown Area Partnership, said there were more than 2,000 job openings available at the job fair.
“I’ve talked to a lot of our companies that are presenting today, and they seem pleased with the event and the turnout,” Rogerson said. “Obviously, I’d love to see wall-to-wall people, but my understanding is the people who have come are very interested in being able to talk to these many different companies in one spot.”
The layoff announcement came Dec. 11, 2020, from parent company Viatris about two months after merging with Mylan Pharmaceuticals.
The plant has been a staple of the Morgantown community since 1965. The layoffs at the end of the month will see 482 non-union employees and 764 union employees affected. Approximately 1,500 jobs are expected to be lost overall.
The Workforce Development Committee, part of the Morgantown Area Partnership, has spent the last two months planning the job fair. Frank Vitale, president and CEO of Forge Business Solutions and chair of the Workforce Development Committee, said this was a no-brainer to try and organize.
“You know, Mylan has been around a long time and has done so much for our state and community that we just felt like we needed a community response to help these employees and their families to find other employment if they want to stay in North Central West Virginia,” Vitale said in an interview earlier this week.
Rogerson said this was the first up-front effort of the Workforce Development Committee and that he was pleased with what he has seen.
“We’re going to continue to work in this field to see if we can continue to plug employers to jobs who want jobs,” Rogers said. “The workforce is critical to any business, and it’s important as an economic development organization and Chamber of Commerce that we help bridge that gap.”
A wide variety of employers showed up. Carolyn Aubitz was there representing MegaCorp Logistics, a third-party logistics company based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. They are starting a new office in Morgantown, which will open in the next few months.
“This is a community that will be in need of jobs, and what we have to offer is not for everybody, but those people who want to get into logistics or learn about a different field, we want to provide that opportunity,” Aubitz said. “Even before the Mylan announcement, it was in the works to have an office here, so it’s really important for us to be in this area.”
In addition to job recruiters, there was financial counseling available, as well as educational assistance for those wanting to attend college or a vocational program.
Shannon Metheney was at the fair helping people sign up for insurance through West Virginia Navigator.
“We are a free, grant-funded program through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and what we do is help individuals enroll into health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and we help do Medicaid applications,” Metheney said.
She noted that anyone who received unemployment compensation at any point in 2020 and 2021 is eligible for a free or reduced-cost health insurance plan for the rest of this year.
“With businesses shutting down, people losing jobs, people are losing their insurance and we want to make sure people don’t go without insurance during this time,” Metheney said. “It is an open enrollment period right now until Aug. 15.”
Those wanting more information can call 304-356-5834 or visit acanavigator.com.
Rogerson said that in addition to the Viatris facility closing, there was recently a mine closure in Monongalia County as well.
“We have employers with over 2,000 job openings, and we need to work hard to get them together with good employees,” Rogerson said. “It only makes our community better.”
For those who were unable to attend the job fair, Rogerson said there is more in the works.
“I’m going to have an announcement here in the next couple weeks where we’re going to be launching a local job website,” Rogerson said. “When you’re looking for jobs in Mon County, you don’t have that single source, and we’re going to create that single source to make that connection much easier. Then we’ll go from there.”