HUBBARD, Ohio - Following a nationally televised interview over the weekend, Regina Mitchell says that her family-owned metal fabricating and machining company has been overwhelmed with hundreds of people hoping to fill only two open positions.
Mitchell is the President and co-owner of Warren Fabricating and Machining, a company that was started by her father.
The company welds, cuts, and forms steel into finished products based on their customers' specifications.
She says one of those jobs required moving a 300-thousand pound steel encasement with a 150-ton crane.
During a nationally televised interview over the weekend, Mitchell said she struggles to fill open positions for well-paying skilled labor jobs because so many of the applicants are unable to pass drug tests.
She told Fox 8 News on Monday that the problem has become more pronounced in the last several years as Ohio has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic.
Mitchell said her company, which has 150 employees, cannot afford the risk or the liability of hiring employees who might come to work impaired.
"I have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for my employees. I have a responsibility to my customers to build quality products, so I need employees who are engaged in their work while they are here, of sound mind and doing the best possible job that they can and keeping their fellow co-workers safe at all times," she told CNN.
After airing her concerns, Mitchell says she has been overwhelmed with emails and visits from people who say they are drug free, qualified and want to work in a drug free environment.
She told Fox 8 News on Monday that the applications have come from as far away as Germany, Canada and Kenya.
The response has been so overwhelming that Mitchell posted the following on her company's Facebook page: "Due to the overwhelming response from drug-free workers all over the country inquiring about employment, we have updated our website to receive applications."
Although she has only two open positions at her company at the moment, Mitchell says she wants to help every one of the applicants get a job. She is creating a database that includes all of the people who have applied for work at her company and is forwarding the information to the head of the 'Jobs Now' program at the Youngstown Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Mitchell, who is involved with the Chamber, says a panel there has concluded that there are about 12-thousand open skilled labor jobs in Mahoning County alone. She believes other employers are having the same difficulty filling those positions as she has had.
Speaking with employers, and one employment agency, in Summit and Cuyahoga counties, Fox 8 has been told that to varying degrees, the same challenge has affected employers elsewhere in our area as well.
Mitchell says she never would have guessed that her three-minute interview would have generated such a huge response.
But she is pleased that it has ignited conversation around the country about the problem. She also hopes that it helps address the opioid problem and will highlight the fact that there are thousands of good paying jobs available for those people who are able to do them.