More than 100 people attended a drive-thru job fair Tuesday that helped connect them with more than 70 area employers who have job openings.

Equus Workforce Solutions, formerly known as Res Care Workforce Services hosted the event, the first of its kind in the area, and the first job fair held locally since the COVID pandemic began.

Edie Miller, business service consultant, said the company has hosted other similar drive-thru job fairs around the state, but this is the first in the Chillicothe area.

Equus is a workforce development program that works with TANF recipients, and others.

Shiane Eason had been out of work for more than a year when she first got connected with Michael Smith, case manager.

“I had a lot of barriers to getting employment,” Eason, a single mother of three, said.

Since getting connected with the team at Equus, Eason has developed a resume and has gained employment.

“They really helped me in so many ways,” Eason said. “For them, it was about helping me move the barriers that kept me from getting a job or even getting to job interviews.”

Equus provides clients with gas cards, resources for childcare, access to education to complete the GED and financial incentives for completing monthly goals.

“They 110 percent helped me in any way they could, they wanted me to find a job just as bad as I did,” Eason said. “I was a single mom new to northwest Missouri, my case manager, Michael Smith, helped set me up with local resources. Equus and thirty employees have been a blessing for my family and I. They helped me to become more self-sufficient. I am able to have a house and car while being able to further my education and provide a bright future for my kids, after starting with nothing.”

Chelsea Belt, area supervisor, said there are jobs available, but there are more and more obstacles arising to allow some the ability to seek or maintain employment.

“There are a lot of different employers, with a lot of needs for employees,” she said. “There is also more problem for some potential employees. Access to childcare is the main issue we all hear about.”

Miller, who is in charge of posting jobs for the company’s 19 county region, said she posted more than 1,795 jobs on the company’s website, the listing is also sent to clients.

Equus partners with a variety of local and statewide agencies for events like the job fair, but also on a continual basis to ensure clients are receiving all the services they can in order to obtain employment that is best for their needs. Services and agencies they collaborate with include the Skill Up Program, Vocational Rehabilitation, Missouri Job Center, North Central Economic Development Alliance and Green Hills Regional Planning Commission.

Cole Kiner with the Family Support Division, Missouri Work Assistance Program and Skill Up was on hand at the event, along with Erin Dennis with vocational rehabilitation. These programs and staff routinely interact with Equus clients and employees to offer a broad range of services.

Larry Wheatley, program manager, said events like the drive-thru job fair are new but will be beneficial even after COVID-19 social distancing limitations are lifted.

“I give credit to Edie and Becky (Becky Hicks, talent engagement specialist) for the event, I wish I had thought of this years ago,” he said. “It makes it so much easier for employers to give their information out in one place while allowing them to save money and staff time. It allows anyone looking for a job the chance to come and get a lot of information and choices at one time in one location, without waiting in long lines.”

The staff at Equus made 250 bags for the event and gave away more than 130 of them. Miller said they will have bags with the information for 70 area employers in the Equus office for several weeks.

Anyone interested in connecting with services offered by Equus should call the office; TANF participants should mention they would like to be enrolled in the Missouri Workforce Project.

Local Equus staff including Miller, Hicks, Smith, Mark Gratton are in office and available to help. Equus is located at 1301 Washington Street in Chillicothe and can be reached by calling 660-864-0078 or 660-259-1989. The Missouri Job Center is located at 601 W. Mohawk.

Another drive-thru job fair will be held on Aug. 25 in St. Joseph. Miller said plans are underway to hold the drive-thru job fair twice a year in Chillicothe.