Job fair in Fort Walton Beach to feature more than 50 employers

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — Okaloosa County and the county Sheriff’s Office, Bass Pro Shops, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Santa Rosa County, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, White-Wilson Medical Center and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort are among the more than 50 employers that plan to offer jobs at an upcoming job fair.

The spring edition of the twice-yearly Panhandle Job Fair is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at the Christian Life Center at First Baptist Church, 21 First St., Fort Walton Beach.

U.S Air Force Airman 1st Class Samuel Gleason, a 33rd Maintenance Fabrication Flight low-observable aircraft structure maintenance apprentice, applies fastener filler onto the underside of wing Oct. 5, 2020 at Eglin AFB. Maintenance jobs like this are completed on a weekly basis to restore LO capabilities.

Jobseekers who want to attend the fair virtually instead of in person must register at

More:Canceled collegiate spring breaks not likely to affect local tourism economy

Organized by the Panhandle Job Fair Foundation in Mary Esther, the fair began in 1993 primarily to help members of the military find work after completing their careers. The event later was expanded to include military spouses and the general public.

According to the foundation’s website, the fair “attracts companies nationwide that are seeking well-qualified, educated and experienced individuals for employment opportunities worldwide.”

Each fair averages 280 to 400 jobseekers, according to the Job Fair website.

Current job openings at the Sheriff’s Office include deputy and communications dispatcher positions.

The starting annual salary for a deputy ranges from $42,120 to $43,804.80. The Sheriff’s Office currently is offering all sworn applicants a $3,000 hiring bonus with a two-year employment agreement.

The starting salary for a dispatcher is $33,300.80.

Like the retention of its current employees, recruitment of quality applicants is a top priority of the Sheriff’s Office, OCSO spokeswoman Michele Nicholson said.

More:COVID-19 vaccine tracker: See how many people in Florida have been vaccinated, by county, state

Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.1% in December, according to the latest statistics available from the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

Okaloosa County’s unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) in December was 4.1%, Santa Rosa County’s was 4% and Walton County’s was 4.4%.

Preliminary unemployment data for January is expected to be released March 15.