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Time is now for oil and gas careers

Miss-Lou residents who want to make their mark — and possibly their career — in the oil and gas industry have a great opportunity today.

Local education and economic leaders describe the field’s current and future job market as “robust,” “expanding” and in need of good employees.

That’s welcome news for our area, where 2014 kicked off with economic gloom. Fruit of the Loom’s Vidalia Apparel plant announced plans to lay off nearly 150 employees, and we learned the Natchez’s J.C. Penney store would close, impacting 55 jobs.

On a much brighter side, the expanding oil and gas industry in Southwest Mississippi has led economic officials to stage a job fair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., today at the Natchez Convention Center. The event is the first of what likely will be more such events in the future.

As companies continue to work the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale that spans central Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi to tap into oil and gas, their need grows for welders, pipe fitters and chemical engineers.

Our area is poised to take advantage of that job expansion, if we’re all ready and willing to jump quickly.

If members of the local workforce fail to be available for the positions, they will soon watch as out-of-towners swoop in for those paychecks.

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