Ridgefield’s Chamber of Commerce wants to attract more workers to town — and plans to hold job fairs in the spring and fall to do just that.
The first job fair will be held in the afternoon on Sunday, April 28, at the Parks and Recreation Center from noon to 4.
Another will be held in the fall, ahead of the holiday rush season when businesses often need additional help.
“We hear the need about not being able to find employees,” said Kim Bova, the chamber’s executive director, at the Economic and Community Development Commission’s meeting March 4.
“This is something that we’re running completely as a break-even for the benefit of our members,” Bova said.
Bova plans to promote the event in town, as well as in nearby cities, like Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford.
John Devine, the commission’s vice chairman, brought up the possibility of providing public transportation for Ridgefield workers.
Bova suggested the chamber might look into setting up shuttles to bus workers between the Danbury Fair Mall and Ridgefield.
“Let’s just say it’s two-dozen, three-dozen employees — that’s going to be a huge impact for businesses. Those are three-dozen employees that don’t need a place to park when they come to work here,” Bova said.
Devine suggested a shuttle from the Branchville Train Station into the downtown village.
“You’ve got the professional sector that can come into Branchville by train, because they typically are living in Stamford now — the young demographic that we need as part of our workforce,” said Devine.
“I don’t know how I can sell it, but SPHERE wants to sell that really nice van,” he added, noting that First Selectman Rudy Marconi has talked about purchasing it for the town.
SPHERE, or Special People’s Housing Education Recreation and Employment, uses the bus to transport members around for its weekly programs. The group wants to sell the bus because of high operating costs, increased maintenance, and because the bus requires a special driver’s license usually reserved for school bus drivers.
Bova noted that transportation remains an issue for finding help for town businesses.
“If we need workers, then we need them to be able to get here,” she said.
ECDC Chairman Arnold Light suggested the chamber might find restaurants willing to chip in for the cost of a bus.
“Particularly the restaurants who need kitchen help, those people can’t afford cars,” he said.
“It’s going to require some creative thinking, but creative thinking is the only way any of this is going to work,” Bova replied.