A personal success story is that of local resident Jerry Bredeman. Jerry was unemployed and had gotten pretty discouraged with job prospects, especially being able to stay in the Canton area. He saw a notice in the local newspaper for testing for the Cook companies and decided to give it a try. He was hesitant with the all-day testing process, but had the faith to come to Spoon River College and sign up. Jerry states, “I owe everything basically to you folks. The training was spot on, and was excellent information. Your positive attitude instantly impressed me and gave me the positive energy to get into the workforce.” Jerry also noted that the process was “perfect,” stating that he attended testing, then a pre-job fair workshop, and then the job fair. “Shortly after testing, I attended a workshop, and I was impressed with the information presented about interviewing. Then I attended the job fair at the park. It all was such perfect timing, and well planned and laid out. I got to meet Denise and she could put a face with my application. She mentioned a position open for a general maintenance person, which led to my interview. I had four different interviews and was hired the same day,” Jerry states. He is now in charge of the residential and commercial needs of the Randolph building, the Lewis building, the entire Fulton Square shopping properties, and the Canton Harvester Inn hotel. Kirgan adds, “Within less than a year, he (Jerry) has already moved into a salaried position based on his personality and skills.”
In the upcoming year, Cook anticipates hiring 50-60 more employees for the Cook Medical plant; 50-55 at the Cook Polymer Technology plant; and replacing those lost by any turnover at the Harvester Inn. All of this is made possible by the partnership of grant funding from the DCEO, TIF funds from the City of Canton, and the testing process provided by the Spoon River College Office of Community Outreach.