Eager and hard-working job seekers passed out hundreds of resumes to a packed house of employers at Thursday's job fair at Flathead Valley Community College. It's a welcome change for many, like Columbia Falls resident Lee Shamp. He left Montana for the Navy in 2004 and came back in 2010, right in the thick of the downed economy.
"I was just in shock," said Shamp. "I turned down great job offers down south and wanted to come home and I heard stories about how bad it was."
Organizers tell NBC Montana they haven't held a fair since 2009, as the valley experienced a bit of a hiring freeze.
"We kind of labeled it as a career fair so people could look at careers but not as jobs. This one is just strictly jobs," said Roberta Diegel of the Flathead Job Service.
But it's a different story four years later. FVCC's Arts and Technology building was bustling with nearly 60 employers from the Flathead and beyond. Each company had to offer at least one job opening to be included in the fair, and were hiring for full time, part time, and seasonal positions.
"I'm impressed with the number of people here and some good, quality candidates," said Lisa Lewis of Huckleberry Haven.
"It's packed in there," Shamp continued. "There's a lot of really, really good employers. It's promising at least."
It doesn't end there, Diegel said there's 400 more postings at their downtown Kalispell office, showing promise of re-growth in a once devastated county.
"I love it. It's so encouraging to know there's good paying jobs back in the valley that people can stay out here and get our economy going," said Diegel.