MTCC header students

McDowell Job Fair Focuses on Older Working Adults

McDowell Technical Community College, in partnership with NCWorks McDowell, McDowell Economic Development Association (MEDA) and McDowell Senior Center will host a Job Fair on November 17th from noon to 6 p.m. in Room 113 of the Harold Smith Building on the college’s main campus at 54 College Drive in Marion. While residents of all ages are invited to the fair, adults over the age of 55 are particularly encouraged to participate.

“Statistically, we know that there are over 7,000 individuals in McDowell County over the age of 55 who are not in the workforce,” said Chuck Abernathy, Executive Director of McDowell Economic Development Association. “We know that some percentage of that group of individuals need to work at least part-time because of limited income and rising cost of living, but they can’t always identify employers who are eager to hire older workers or part-time employees. The businesses and industries coming to this fair are more than willing to work with this population.”

While the so-called labor force participation rate—the percentage of individuals who are able to work and are an active part of the workforce—ranges consistently from approximately 75 to 80% across all age brackets from 20 to 44 in McDowell County, the participation rate begins to drop after age 44. The rate for individuals from 55 to 59 years of age, for example, is only 65%, and for those who are 60 to 64, the percentage drops to approximately 35%, and drops even lower after that.

Foothills Industries Medical Draping Production 3
Foothills Industries Medical Draping Production

Foothills Industries will be at the McDowell Job Fair on November 17th recruiting for positions in their Medical Draping Production Department. Michelle Carr, Production Manager, Medical Manufacturing, is looking for versatile individuals who can cross-train in all aspects of Medical Draping Production. Foothills offers an excellent benefits package, including low-cost health insurance, life insurance, matching policy for retirement savings and paid holiday and vacation time.

Recently, Abernathy and Weyland Prebor, Director of McDowell Senior Center, worked with a focus group of local residents at the McDowell Senior Center and asked them what conditions and benefits would make them more willing to return to the workforce. While the responses were varied, there were some common themes: Better pay, good working conditions, flexible work hours, job sharing, and benefits that are more important to older adults—Medicare supplements, for example.

Armed with that information, Bambi Watkins, Center Manager at NCWorks McDowell, and other members of the Job Fair team reached out to local employers to identify their willingness to participate in a job fair for all ages, but particularly the older adult population. The positive response confirmed that local business and industry leaders are solutions-oriented and willing to work with non-traditional candidates to meet the high demand for new employees.

Employers attending the November 17th Job Fair include large industry employers like Baxter, Westrock and Crane ChemPharma/Resistoflex; government employers like McDowell County and the City of Black Mountain; local retailers like Lowe’s, Dollar General, Harbor Freight, Samir’s and Ingles; Temporary Agencies like Manpower, PROMAN, and Acro Blue Staffing; non-profits like Foothills Industries, Corpening YMCA and Western NC Community Health Services; and others, like Carriage House Doors, Ecolab, Autumn Care, and Greene Concepts/Mammoth Industries.

A number of service agencies will also be on hand to offer a variety of assistance to attendees, including McDowell Tech, LifeWorks, Centro Unido Latino-Americano (CULA), Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Pisgah Legal Services and McDowell Access to Care and Health (MATCH).


Of particular interest, McDowell Technical Community College stepped up to the plate and created a series of training sessions to help employees of all ages gain job skills and/or certifications to make them more successful candidates for local jobs. Classes in the “Back to Work Series” will be held daily from December 5th through the 8th and cover topics like OSHA 10 and CPR certification, Digital Literacy and Interview Skills and Resume Development. Information on these classes will be available at the fair and can be found on the college’s Continuing Education Class page at or by visiting

To accommodate folks who come to the fair during lunch or after work, two food trucks will be set up near the fair site: Munch Box (Hispanic food with American cuisine options) and Smoke a Lil Smoke (BBQ and other fixings).


“Like our other job fair partners, McDowell Technical Community College is committed to workforce development and skills training that enable local residents to secure jobs with family-sustaining wages that promote upward socio-economic mobility,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “We are equally committed to creating and sustaining a healthy employer base and local economy. When we make connections between local employers and job candidates at local job fairs, we are fulfilling both of these commitments. We encourage residents of all ages to come visit us at McDowell Tech on the 17th.”

For more information about the McDowell Job Fair, call NCWorks McDowell at 652-7131 or visit NCWorks McDowell 1 on Facebook.

Judy Randall with Kasey Stevens, PT
Kasey Stevens, Physical Therapist and Director of Rehabilitation Services at Autumn Care of Marion, guides rehab patient Judy Randall as she practices descending and ascending stairs in preparation for returning home after a brief stay at the facility. Autumn Care's Human Resources Director, Stacy Jordan, will participate in the McDowell Job Fair on November 17th at McDowell Tech. Jordan is currently recruiting for positions in all departments at the facility, including cooks, nurses, dietary assistants, nurse aides, laundry personnel and physical therapy assistants.

Celebrating a Life Well-Lived

In his 83 years of life, Dr. Robert M. Boggs took on several unique roles—public school superintendent, community college president, horseman, teacher, civic leader and actor, among others—but none were more cherished to him than husband, father, coach, mentor and friend. To many, he was nothing short of a legend, and most would say that it was a role that fit him to a tee.

Read More »