CHICAGO (CBS) — Officials in Gary were expecting as many as 2,000 people to attend a job fair Friday, each vying for one of 300 positions with Edsal Furniture.

Edsal, a Chicago-based industrial furniture manufacturing company, has announced plans to open a facility Gary, bringing 300 much-needed jobs to the struggling town in northwest Indiana.

“Look at all the people here right now,” Charles Rogers said after showing up three hours early for the 10 a.m. job fair.

“I’m unemployed right now. I’ve been unemployed for several months,” he said.

Hundreds were standing in line about an hour into the four-hour event.

“This is fantastic. There’s a lot of people here in Gary who are capable, and hungry, and ready to work,” said Bo Kemp, executive director of the Gary Economic Development Corporation.

Kemp said each job starts off at minimum wage, “but they have a pay scale that moves up pretty aggressively.”

“What’s also important is all of these jobs come with benefits,” Kemp added. “What we hope we can do with opportunities like this is to target particularly some fo the harder to employ populations who’ve had difficulty; people who have been unemployed for over a year, people who may have criminal background records.”

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the turnout confirms unemployment is a big problem for the city.

“We have a lot of challenges around unemployment, but people are ready to work,” she said.

Kemp said that was a selling point in getting Edsal to expand to Gary.

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