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Target job fair attracting steady stream of applicants

March 24, 2003|BY RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

By the end of this weekend, an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people will have filled out applications for 500 to 600 warehouse jobs available at the new Target Distribution Center in Chambersburg.

The jobs fair is being described by Target officials as the "biggest hiring event in Franklin County history."

It ran from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday and continues from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday.

Applicants came Friday from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, said Jennifer Ketchum, human resources development manager.

Target employees from other distribution centers were brought in to help process the thousands of applicants. About 60 employees already work at the center.

There was a steady stream of traffic on Archer Road entering the center's rear parking lot at 2 p.m. Friday.

Outside the door, Target employees welcomed each applicant, handed each a colored ticket and sent them inside.

There they were assigned to a color-coded group of 150. They went through the 11/2-hour process in the same group.

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They saw a video about Target on the first stop and were given some basic company facts. Next was the orientation session where they learned about the jobs available - warehouse worker, packer and clerk.

They learned what the company expected of them as employees and what they could expect back from the company in terms of salary, benefits, working conditions and hours.

Wages start at $10.50 an hour plus health and retirement benefits.

"Only a small portion of our applicants make it through our rigorous screening process," General Manager Bill Miller said in a brochure printed for the jobs fair.

Miller said screening the applications and interviewing those selected will begin next week. Jobs will be offered in April and training will begin in May. The first merchandise will be shipped out in June.

The Chambersburg center will service 32 Target stores at first then expand to 48 by the end of the year in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry were at the fair.

William Sloss, a representative from the department in Huntingdon County northwest of Franklin County said the jobless rate there is more than 11 percent.

Mount Union in Huntingdon County is 46 miles from Chambersburg.

"The unemployment rate is so high there that people are willing to drive here for a job," Sloss said. "They'll car pool."

Franklin County's jobless rate is about 6 percent. One reason for that is the recent layoff of about 300 workers at the Fresh Express plant in Greencastle, Pa.

Sonya Dean, 36, and Mary Gilland, 40, of Greencastle and Crystal Godinez, 45, of Hagerstown were long-time friends and Fresh Express workers. They were walking across the Target parking lot after filling out their applications.

"We worked together at the last place and we'd like to work together here," Dean said.

All three said they liked what they saw in the warehouse.

"Hopefully, this will be my next home," Dean said. "Yeah, we're lifers," Godinez said.

Rhonda Green of Waynesboro, Pa., works as the club steward at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Waynesboro. She worked for five years at the National Book Network warehouse in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. She said she likes warehouse work and wants to get back into it.

"It's what I know best and what I like," she said.

She thought the Target warehouse was huge.

"It's nice inside," she said. "But I'd hate to be the one who has to go through all those applications."

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