By Josh Roesner Pioneer News Network Officials with the GEO Group were upbeat about the possibility of reopening the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin during a job fair held at the prison Wednesday afternoon. Julie Owens, regional human resources director for GEO, said while the company has not yet signed any contracts to house inmates at the facility, they are \u201cactively looking to reopen" and are currently pursuing a procurement of 900 prisoners from the Michigan Department of Corrections. Up until July, MDOC sought competitive bids for operations and service to house already incarcerated Michigan prisoners. GEO and another group submitted bids to the state, said Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo. If GEO is awarded the contract, it also will be required to interview and consider former MDOC employees to work at the prison and give consideration to the hiring of unemployed National Guard or reserve officers and military personnel who are returning to the state following active deployment. If MDOC doesn\u2019t enter a contract for the Baldwin facility, GEO is still permitted to open it to inmates from other states. \u201cBids are getting looked at right now at the state level,\u201d Bumstead said. \u201cOnce we get back into session full-time \u2014 which is this week \u2014 I could start looking into seeing where that is at.\u201d Recently, Bumstead, GEO representatives and other state and local elected officials met in Baldwin to discuss where GEO is at in the bid process. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company likely did so to reassure local elected officials it still was actively trying to reopen the facility, Bumstead said. The job fair is another reassurance, he added. \u201cI think it\u2019s good news,\u201d Bumstead said. \u201cNo. 1, they probably want to see what is out there \u2014 as far as a workforce anyway \u2014 that\u2019s qualified for the jobs before they have to look elsewhere out of the area for those folks. It\u2019s probably good to do that on their part also.\u201d Gauging local interest and skills sets are important in the company\u2019s planning before it can reopen the facility, Owens said. \u201cWe need to understand what level of interest and talent is available in the community,\u201d she said. North Lake has not housed inmates since October 2011, when the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation \u2014 which had signed a contract with GEO to house prisoners at North Lake in November 2010 \u2014 stopped sending prisoners after the California legislature chose not to extend a law that allowed the CDCR to house California\u2019s prisoners in other states. Since that time, when 145 employees were laid off, the 1,750-bed facility has been cared for by a skeleton staff, Owens said. \u201c(North Lake) is move-in ready,\u201d she said. \u201cWe have had staff here all along. It\u2019s never been mothballed.\u201d Wednesday\u2019s event served as an open house for potential applicants. Attendees had the opportunity to see the facility and speak with GEO employees who work in each of the areas the company would need workers should North Lake reopen. Attendees wishing to apply for positions were directed to GEO\u2019s website. If the facility was at full capacity, GEO would need between 350 and 400 full-time employees. While related work experience is a plus, all new hires are trained by GEO based on the requirements of the group GEO is contracted with to house inmates, Owens said. GEO coordinated with Michigan Works! West Central to host the event. Michelle Rasmussen, business services director at Michigan Works! West Central, said turnout for the event was \u201csteady.\u201d \u201cI\u2019m pleased,\u201d Rasmussen said. \u201cWe had people coming in before noon, and we had to tell them to leave and come back (because the event started at 1 p.m.).\u201d Workers from Manistee, Mason, Newaygo, Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties were all expected to attend, she added. Among the potential applicants in attendance were Wendy Hawkins and Rebecca Edenburn, both of Manistee County. Hawkins and Edenburn said they are interested in working as nurses at the facility, and are currently working on an occasional basis as nurses. \u201cI\u2019ve been working in long-term care,\u201d Hawkins said. \u201cIt\u2019d be a nice change (to work at North Lake).\u201d Edenburn added the compensation GEO offers makes the position appealing. \u201cThey have good benefits,\u201d she said. \u201cThat\u2019s a plus, too.\u201d For more information about the positions or to apply, visit jobs.geogroup.com.