McHENRY – Mike Ruffner, veteran employment representative for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, painted a grim picture of the job market.
"After three years, we're seeing that it's not really moving, as far as getting people re-employed," he said. "The vets I work with, it seems pretty flat. I lose some, gain some. Nothing's really happening from what I can see. No matter what the state or federal government says, I know what I'm working with in this county.
"You may not go back to your original job, because it's not coming back."
Ruffner was among the speakers at a business creation workshop Tuesday at the McHenry VFW. In attendance were about 20 veterans and nonveterans, many of them unemployed.
"If you are waiting for the state of Illinois or McHenry County or the federal government to come down and tap you on the head to solve all your problems, you've got another thing coming," Ruffner said. "You've got to help yourself. That means you have to take the step to decide where you're going to go to put yourself in a better position for the future."
Also attending the workshop were representatives from SCORE, Workforce Investment Board, Pioneer Center and the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.
Craig Adams, director of business development at Pioneer, discussed how Pioneer can help manufacture, assemble and distribute products for small businesses.
"We do things from simple to complex," he said of Pioneer, which employs disabled adults in two manufacturing facilities. "There are some misconceptions out there that people with disabilities can't do good quality. I guarantee you they can. "
McHenry chamber Ambassador Frank Hosticka of LegalShield said chambers include members "that have invented something and created a business for themselves." He urged those considering to start a business to network, adding that he found a business opportunity through someone he met at the chamber.
The main speaker was Tom Finn of Finnera Consulting in McHenry. Creating a business, he said, "is job creation, creating your own job."
Finn went over the process on creating your job, which includes research and resources, business model, prototype, marketing, contracts and agreements, and service delivery.
"I'm not presenting anything you haven't thought of already," said Finn, who has 25 years consulting experience. "I'm a facilitator, a consultant to help create your own job.
"We all have to do something different and create your own job."
"I have a lot of experience, but I can't find a job," said Daniel Jahrke, 55, of Harvard. "I've been out of work for a while so it's even worse now because nobody wants to get near me with three years of unemployment. "
"I have a lot of good Ideas, but i don't have a passion for anything."
"I think you cut yourself short,"' said McHenry chamber member Cindy Joslun of Successul Endeavor. "When I was unemployed you beat yourself up because the day goes by and you've got nothing to show for it. That's a head game. You've got to get your head out of that game."
"Your passion might not be what you do. The money you create from it that might be your passion," Joslun said.
Todd Nelson, 52, of Cary was a Navy helicopter pilot for eight years. He said the workshop gave him some ideas on how to market his invention – something to do with appliance plugs and electrical outlets.
Carl Schueler, 62, of Ringwood, has been looking for work the last three years. "Since I can't find a job, this has laid some of the groundwork for a small business" specializing in web design and computer services.
"We have a lot of people in this county that are unemployed right now that if somebody comes up with an idea we have local talent that could stand something up in a reasonable amount of time," Ruffner said. "But the only thing that stops us is two things: How we finance it and what will be the product.
"The big thing is to help each other in getting the word out and start talking with each other," Ruffner said. "You can't sit in front of your computer and hope that business materializes. You have to get outside the four walls and expand your horizons.
"Today is to plant the seed and the fertilizer to see where it goes," Ruffner said.
Finn said this was the first in a series of workshops on job creation. The next workshop at 3 p.m. Jan. 15 at the McHenry VFW, 3002 W. Route 120, will feature a representative from the Small Business Administration.