Hundreds of eager job hunters turned out for the first of what is expected to be many more job fairs for the Chinese pipe company going up near Gregory.

"They range from forklift operators, lab technicians, engineers, operators, crane operators," said J.J. Johnston of TPCO America.

About 30 jobs were up for grabs at Friday's job fair, but come next year, TPCO America, the Chinese company behind the Tianjin Steel Plant project, will be looking to fill some 2000 construction jobs.

Friday's hires can expect to start work soon.

"We will start hiring people literally next month," Johnston said. "Most will be hired in our first shift. First phase is in January and February. Then we'll take three months to customize and train before they enter our facility, which we hope to move into, say, April of 2013."

TPCO America, along with Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, have partnered up to organize other job fairs next year.

When the $1.1 billion steel mill is finished in 2014, there will be about 800 permanent jobs. That plant will produce seamless steel pipe for the oil and gas industry.