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‘Connect Rowan’ online tool can help laid off workers find local employment opportunities

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — An online tool created to help connect local high school seniors with employers is now serving as an additional resource for laid off and displaced workers in Rowan County during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connect Rowan was born out of a need to help students get jobs after high school, as a “historic amount of jobs were available,” said Rowan Economic Development Commission Chair Bryan Overcash. He is also the chief operating officer of Salisbury-based Global Contact Services, which is the company that created the Connect Rowan tool.

Overcash said the “beta” site was released to Rowan-Salisbury Schools in early March for feedback and testing. But since all the tools and infrastructure were in place to allow the EDC to make it available, Overcash said, its official launch to the general public was expedited for March 18 due to the COVID-19 impact to the local economy. The Connect Rowan tool can be found at connectrowan.com.

Individuals enter into the online database their contact information and type of job they’re interested in. When employers contact the EDC and specify the type of workers needed, the EDC can make potential employees’ information available and match them to the interested employer.

The process only takes a few minutes, Overcash said, and uploading a resume is optional as the purpose was to make the process “as simple and non-intimidating as possible.”

“(This is) one of many resources … that can help in this time of crisis,” Overcash said.

Currently, there are more than 2,000 jobs available for local companies such as the Chewy fulfillment center, Aldi, Food Lion, McKenzie Taxidermy Supply, SnowJoe and GCS. A full list of available opportunities can be found at visitsalisburync.com/resources.

The resources site was compiled by the EDC, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce and the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority in mid-March to provide locals with all the resources available for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the site has seen at least 8,000 unique visitors, according to James Meacham, the Tourism Development Authority director. The main “clicks” have been for available jobs, unemployment information and financial relief options with the Small Business Administration.

And while Overcash has yet to “circle back” with employers to see if they’ve hired anyone from the Connect Rowan database, he said it’s done “very well” and there have been multiple requests from employers for access to the database.

The EDC has worked to minimize poverty and improve the quality of life for Rowan County residents since the Great Recession that ended in 2009, said Overcash and EDC CEO Rod Crider.

“We have got to have job opportunities for people who may be living at poverty level, or below, and connect them with jobs opportunities available in our community,” Crider said, adding that people have to be able to access the “first rung of a ladder.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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