Companies attending a state job fair in October will have a captive audience of potential employees. The fair will take companies inside the woman’s prison at Mitchellville to talk with soon-to-be-released inmates about jobs.Job fair coordinator Judy Avritt says it’s the first time something like this has ever been done at an Iowa prison. It’s an attempt to meet the demand for workers in the midst of record low unemployment for the state. The job fair is co-sponsored by Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Corrections Department. Avritt admits inmates carry a stigma and some employers might not want to take a chance on them. She says they hope to change attitudes and give the women a second chance.Avritt says 150 of the prison’s 415 inmates are scheduled to be released soon. She says they’ve undergone training while in prison and can provide potential employers various skills.Avritt says employers may qualify for a state tax credit if they hire the former felons. The incentive would pay up to 65-percent of the wages of the employee in their first year on the job. Avritt says this is a pilot project they want to expand to other prisons.Avritt says employers have until August 1st to sign up for the job fair.
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