Hundreds of job-seekers could meet their future bosses next month at the second annual “Craven Works.”

Sponsored by the Craven 100 Alliance, Craven Works is free to participants and businesses. The event will run from noon to 6 p.m. March 21 at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center.

County economic development director Timothy Downs said last year’s inaugural event drew 52 employers and roughly 1,100 job-seekers.

“We’re expecting at least that many and maybe more,” he said. “The Sun Journal and the ENC Media Group have partnered with us for the event, so we’re hoping that helps us get the word out.”

Downs said the first Craven Works connected hundreds of people with jobs, including a top baker at Bengel Hospitality, which owns Baker’s Kitchen, Beer Army Burger Company, Lawson’s Landing and Aperitivo in downtown New Bern.

“There were a lot of stories like that,” he said. “We didn’t end up getting a final count and that’s something we hope to do this year is a little more follow-up to say, ‘X number of people got jobs’.”

Another change attendees can expect is a Craven Works “Welcome Center.”

When people enter the convention center, organizers will ask them about where they are in the job-seeking process. Folks who come prepared with resumes could go straight to meet with employers. Those who need more information can first connect with resources like Craven Community College, Craven County Schools, Interfaith Refugee Ministry and NCWorks to get job and resume advice.

“Ultimately, we want everyone to go inside and interact with the employers,” Downs said.

Two dozen businesses have already signed on for Craven Works, including Hatteras Yachts, Bengel Hospitality, Lowe’s, New York Life, State Employees’ Credit Union and the City of New Bern.

As of December, Craven County’s employment rate was 5.2 percent, slightly higher than the statewide rate of 4.9 percent.

“There has been a disconnect between the folks that need a better job, and a job in general, and the folks that need employees,” Downs said. “There’re help wanted signs all over our county and we want to make sure we’re connecting the employers with employees.”

For more information or to register as a participating business, visit CravenBusiness.com/CravenWorks.