Bollinger to hold job fair today, Saturday in Vidalia

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; Carpenters, welders, pipefitters, office clerks and other skilled workers are potential employees Bollinger Shipyards will be looking for at a job fair to be held in Vidalia Town Hall from 3 to 6 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The job fair, hosted by Concordia Economic and Industrial Development, will also give Bollinger a chance to look at the Miss-Lou area as a potential area for expansion of their company, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

Bollinger, family-owned and operated since 1946, specializes in the repair, conversion and new construction of small- to medium-sized offshore and inland vessels.

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Bollinger currently operates 14 shipyards throughout southern Louisiana and Texas, with direct access to the central Gulf of Mexico an the Mississippi River.

According to a report, Copeland said that Bollinger representatives have been looking at sites in southern Louisiana to build a dedicated shipyard, but many of those areas have an unemployment rate of only two percent.

Copeland said, &uot;the available workforce (in the Miss-Lou area) is an attraction for the company.&uot;

The available workforce in the Miss-Lou area heavily stems from the announcement of the closing of the International Paper’s Natchez mill.

&uot;While our number one priority is to keep the International Paper facility in use in some way, we also want to allow Bollinger and other companies access to these skilled employees as a potential part of their workforce,&uot; Louisiana state Sen. Noble Ellington said.

Teresa Dennis, executive director for Concordia Economic and Industrial Development, said &uot;while the news of the IP mills closing was a devastating blow to the Miss-Lou area, the employees need to know that there are many factors working together, both public and private, to give them hope for a future in the Miss-Lou area.&uot;

Copeland said that while Bollinger is here &uot;we hope that this will open the door for a possible future with Bollinger Shipyards in this area.&uot;

At the rapid pace Bollinger is growing &045; and also having recently been awarded a $17 billion contract, a large part of which will involve the rebuilding of 49 U.S. Coast Guard cutters &045;they will be looking to expand, Dennis said.

McGlothin said he would like to see Bollinger look at the Natchez Port and Vidalia Industrial Park as one of two possible sites to expand to.

Dennis said Vidalia Industrial Park could serve as a multipurpose loading and unloading facility because there is access to the river.

Both Copeland and McGlothin said they feel Bollinger Shipyards would be a great boost to the Miss-Lou economy and also hope the company can increase employment.

At the job fair, Bollinger will be showing a film about the company, interviewing and possibly giving skill tests.

Teresa Dennis said that Bollinger is looking to hire employees that will work a schedule similar to that of offshore workers &045; seven days on and seven days off,.

That will keep families from relocating, Dennis said.

Louisiana State Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday, stated that, &uot;this is a company already located in Louisiana that is hungry for trainable, skilled workers to fill the need that they have in their shipyards.&uot;