CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Industry leaders say the West Virginia Construction & Design Expo couldn’t have come at a better time due to the loss of jobs across the state.

Allegheny Wood Products, a 50-year-old West Virginia-based internationally known hardwood producer, closed its doors last month and eliminated hundreds of jobs held by state residents. Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. also announced it plans to idle its tinplate production plant in Weirton in April which will result in 900 layoffs.

The expo is taking place at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Cassidy Webb, the expo’s show manager and director of communications for the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said there are now more people looking for work.

“Workforce and construction has been an ongoing issue for years. It seems like there’s never any hope for an end, but this event provides so much opportunity for people to network and to learn,” she said.

Nearly than 300 exhibiters are on hand through Thursday to speak with and to interview interested candidates both in-person and virtually.

“We’ve implemented virtual job fairs. We have an ongoing reverse job fair that we hold every year, bringing in qualified students that are getting ready to complete their training in construction-related fields,” Webb said.

The expo has partnered with the state Department of Education to host that reverse job fair that will showcase CTE Simulated Workplace students who are currently enrolled in county vo-tech schools.

For the first time this year, Jobs & Hope WV and Mountaineer Challenge Academy graduates will be participating in the reverse job fair. Students from BridgeValley Community and Technical College and Ben Franklin Career Center will also be on hand.

Webb said some of those students are adults who went back to school.

“With those groups, with the exception of the Mountaineer Challenge Academy, there are some adults in the program. They, just like the younger students, are getting trained in construction related fields and they would be great assets to some of the companies here at the show,” she said.

Webb said there are job opportunities available in a number of different fields.

“There’s a number of construction-related fields here: welding, HVAC, diesel mechanics, even CDL drivers, general construction, heavy equipment operators,” she said.

The expo runs until 8 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Thursday.