Students from around the Lakelands got a chance to meet representatives from the region’s businesses at the annual Greenwood Regional Industry Showcase this week.

It was the first year that the showcase, which is hosted at Piedmont Technical College’s Medford Event Center, was open to students from outside Greenwood County. James Bateman, director of business at the Greenwood Partnership Alliance, said the plan had always been to make the showcase a regional event.

“Our companies don’t just fill their jobs with people from Greenwood” and vice-versa, he said.

But the mission of the showcase remains unchanged: to “help students connect the dots between the decisions they need to make about their education now so they can go to these jobs,” Bateman said.

Eighth-graders filled the event center Wednesday. In the year before high school, students work with guidance counselors to make individual graduation plans (IGPs), and exposure to area employers is often the first step in helping them decide what they might want to do after they graduate.

Drew Ransom and Alston Howell, eighth-graders at Dixie High School, said they learned about jobs and how to land them during the showcase.

“There are a lot of interesting jobs,” Howell said. “Some jobs have four years of classes you got to take, some have two.”

“When you’re a kid, you’ve got to spend your time wisely,” Ransom said.

Alexia McCleod, a human resources generalist with Eaton, said most students asked her about pay, what type of education they’ll need to be hired and the company’s history.

“The showcase is incredible,” said Ahmad Pendergrass, a senior at Greenwood High School and apprentice at Velux. He was working the booth Wednesday morning, explaining to his peers what the company does.

“I’m glad we get the surrounding areas,” he said. “It shows Greenwood is a good place to work in; it’s not just a town where you have shootings every other week. ... People can stay here and prosper here.”

Contact staff writer Aleks Gilbert at 864-943-5644.