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Waynesboro Wal-Mart is still hiring

Low unemployment rate making it tough

Low unemployment rate making it tough

April 05, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA.

The phone at the Wal-Mart hiring office doesn't stop ringing, but the nation's largest private employer continues to search for workers for its new Waynesboro supercenter.

Around 300 of the 350 jobs created by the new store have been filled from an applicant pool of 700, according to store manager Alan Heinbaugh.

The 185,000-square-foot supercenter, set to open May 17 in the Rouzerville Commons shopping center, will be one of the top 20 employers in the county, said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin Area Development Corp.

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In the latest batch of work force statistics, Franklin County boasted the lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties, which can be a "double-edged sword" for employers, Ross said.

"It makes hiring that more difficult," he said.

"The unemployment is very low, and there's a lot of jobs to be had in this area," Heinbaugh said.

He said the Wal-Mart always will be hiring, and he anticipates a surge in applications once the store opens. Additional associates will be hired for the holiday season.

A tiered pay scale starts at $6.75 an hour for Wal-Mart associates at the new supercenter. Those with experience are paid higher on the scale, he said.

The mix of part-time and full-time associates will be somewhere around 50/50, Heinbaugh said.

Applicants for openings at the new Wal-Mart not only hailed from Franklin County communities, but also those in Adams County, Pa., and Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland.

Some are transferring from five area stores - Chambersburg and Shippensburg in Pennsylvania and Frederick, Walkersville and Hagerstown in Maryland.

The supercenter will have some features that set it apart from other stores, and will be smaller than the ones in Hagerstown and Chambersburg, Pa., Heinbaugh said.

The front end has been redesigned to offer better customer flow, the floors will be colored concrete instead of tile and the entire store will be painted in neutral tones, he said.

"We will not look like the neighboring Wal-Marts," Heinbaugh said.

He anticipates a slightly different merchandise mix from other area stores and especially pointed to apparel geared to the young professional.

The supercenter will anchor Rouzerville Commons with the Lowe's home improvement store that opened Jan. 20. Other businesses slated for the shopping center include a Hollywood Video, Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, a Chinese restaurant and sporting goods store.

The Wal-Mart itself will feature a vision center, portrait studio, hair salon, pharmacy, wireless dealer, Subway restaurant and Tire Lube Express, according to Heinbaugh.

MaryBeth Hockenberry, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce, said Rouzerville Commons will help people realize they can do all their shopping in the Waynesboro community.

She hopes the increased shopping traffic will bring more customers to downtown Waynesboro businesses.

"There's going to be people coming our way. People need a variety of choices," she said.

Large shopping centers "put pressure on our downtowns, but at the same time, we have a lot of initiatives," Ross said.

"I think the county is ready for another retail option locally. I think people are more interested in spending their dollar locally," said Heinbaugh, who was born in Chambersburg and recently returned to the county after six years out of state.

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