LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Gary Vetter came to a job fair in Hazleton to apply for one of the more than 200 green jobs that a Canadian manufacturing company is bringing to the area.
Hazleton will host one of the first five factories for Nexii Building Solutions in the U.S., and Vetter hopes his skills will prove useful here.
"I like, when you're making something, and you're building it, you know that you're a part of that industry. And that means a lot."
Michael Witczak from Tamaqua is a semi-retired carpenter and looking for something part-time. Like many of the other prospective employees, he's happy to see the manufacturing industry get a boost in this area.
"It was all coal industry back in the day, so now it's starting to come back. It's good," Witczak.
"It's great because the thing of it is, there's not too many trades out there anymore," Vetter said.
Potential candidates are also excited that Hazleton will be a part of the green manufacturing industry.
Nexii manufactures building panels using a low-carbon alternative to traditional concrete and steel.
"You have to change with the times, and this is the time to do it," said Vetter.
Dan Metzler, managing partner at Nexii, says he was pleasantly surprised by the number of applicants so far. With the pandemic, he and his colleagues didn't know what to expect.
"One of the biggest obstacles we had was trying to figure out if we're going to be able to find the employees for it. We need 200 to be able to get the factory going," Metzler said.
Metzler says good timing is likely playing a role in the turnout. The $300 federal unemployment benefits expire soon.
"We've gotten people that have been very honest and just said, 'listen, things are starting to run out, and I have to look for a job.'"
The plan is to have this facility up and running by the middle of September. The job fair continues until 7 p.m. Wednesday.