Mushroom industry, chamber unite to create job opportunities

Photo courtesy Chamber of CommerceThe Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce recently  hosted the region’s first Job Fair of its kind at their headquarters in West Grove, Pa. Photo courtesy Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce.
Photo courtesy Chamber of CommerceThe Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce recently hosted the region’s first Job Fair of its kind at their headquarters in West Grove, Pa. Photo courtesy Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

West Grove >> The Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce hosted the region’s first Job Fair of its kind Sept. 29 at their headquarters in West Grove, Pa., to fill a diverse range of jobs in the mushroom industry, including machine operators, supervisors, packers and administrative roles. Employers invited to exhibit met with job applicants of all skill levels to fill part-time and full-time positions, many of which offered benefits and flexible hours.

The Job Fair, a pilot program spotlighting the mushroom Industry, brought more than 50 job applicants from around the county and beyond seeking full-time and part-time opportunities. Exhibitor/employers were arranged in attractive booths that included samples of a variety of mushrooms, literature, and organized staff members equipped to discuss open positions.

“The mushroom industry could easily hire hundreds of people by the end of 2017,” says Chris Alonzo, President of Pietro Industries, one of the larger mushroom growers in the region. “People may not be aware that the mushroom industry has been paying wages exceeding the minimum wage for over two decades.” Alonzo continued, “Holding a job fair such as this is just what we needed to change the perception.”

“Mushroom growers play an important role in our community and local economy,” says Cheryl B. Kuhn, President and CEO of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce. “Hosting a Job Fair provides a direct connection between the industry and the unemployed and underemployed. We were proud to be a part of its success.”

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The mushroom industry accounts for over 6,000 jobs in Chester County and contributes an estimated $2.17 billion to the local economy, according to a 2008 Penn State study.

The Mushroom/Ag Labor Crisis Task Force is an initiative consisting of business and community leaders from around the region. The group formed because of the existing scarcity of labor in the mushroom industry, leaving a wide range of job openings immediately available throughout one of Chester County’s most important industries.

SCC Mushroom/AG Labor Crisis Task Force is represented by: American Mushroom Institute, American Mushroom Institute, American Mushroom Institute, Chester County Agricultural Development Councilm Chester County Department of Community Development, Chester County Economic Development Council, Chester Water Authority and many more.