WJFW – Job opportunities arise in Rhinelander after company closures last winter

RHINELANDER – News of business closures and layoffs just kept coming in Rhinelander over the last year.In December, it was the Sears Hometown.That was followed by closures of Petco and Shopko, which left more than 300 people without a job.But as those jobs disappeared, new ones emerged.Eric Reed is a vice president at Atlanta-based Southern Cross, a utility services company working in the Rhinelander area on residential electric meters. He hosted a hiring event on Wednesday.”We are bringing people in. You don’t have to have an appointment. We want to talk to them today. We’re going to be making offers today so we can get people working right away,” Reed said. “Ideally, I’d love to walk away with 12 offers and 12 people willing to join the team today.”The $16-an-hour jobs last through December.For some, last winter’s layoffs have turned into a second chance.”There are a lot of opportunities in many different directions for the people affected by that,” said Stacey Johnson, the Executive Director of the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation.Johnson pointed to Americollect, a Wisconsin-based collection agency looking to hire at least 80 local people to work from home.”For the last ten years, they’ve been one of the fastest-growing companies in the nation, one of only 20 companies to make that list ten years running,” she said.But Johnson also said generating new small businesses and growing established businesses is just as important.”I’d like to see us continue to focus on entrepreneurship and small business, and then really just solidifying the strong, big companies that we have, and letting them grow and expand,” she said.Oneida County’s unemployment rate is 3.8 percent.

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