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Ulta Beauty opening warehouse near I-81 in Pa.

November 08, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. — More than 400 logistics and support jobs are expected to land in Franklin County (Pa.) this winter when Ulta Beauty opens a 350,000-square-foot distribution center near Interstate 81 off Kriner Road, according to a county development official.

Ulta Beauty, a national retailer of beauty products, recently expanded into the Tri-State area, opening retail stores in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., and planning a warehouse in Chambersburg.

Representatives of the Illinois-based corporation did not return multiple requests for comment on the project.

However, Ulta spokeswoman Alecia Pulman confirmed in a September email that the distribution center was coming to Chambersburg, but that no details were available at the time.

Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said recently that the facility should be fully operational by January.

Ulta will lease a building in the Liberty Business Park which is adjacent to the Chambers5 Business Park, he said.

Calling it a "logistics center" — the new buzzword for distribution — Ross said improvements to the space are under way.

Ross said Ulta is working with Franklin County CareerLink to fill more than 400 positions at the distribution center.

Ulta has begun its recruiting through CareerLink, said Derrick Donnell, CareerLink administrator in Franklin County.

He said representatives from Ulta were at the CareerLink office Tuesday doing interviews for currently posted positions, including material handlers and a payroll specialist.

In October, Ulta hired managers and supervisors through CareerLink for the logistics center, he said.

A bulk hire of material handlers for the center will take place in December, Donnell said.

Postings for material handlers at the Ulta Chambersburg distribution center have also appeared on Careerbuilder.com.

The company's decision to locate in the county not only fills a vacant industrial space and brings significant new employment to the region, it comes at a time when both are still very much needed, despite recent growth, Ross said.

Unemployment continued to fall last month in Franklin County, Ross said.

He characterized the area as being in a "bit of a bubble."

"Counter to the rest of the country, we are experiencing some growth and resurgence at the moment," he said. "I think we weathered the recession as well as anyone."

Declining unemployment however, has created a development catch-22 for the region, he said.

Recently, a major manufacturer chose to locate elsewhere, in part, because of concerns that Franklin County could not provide the necessary workforce for its operations, he said.

Ulta shared a similar concern about the local labor market, but after extensive analysis, determined the market could support its operations, Ross said.

"It's a tight labor market and it's trending upward," he said, noting that unemployment in September fell to 6.8 percent, well below the national average of 9.0 and lower than the state average of 8.3 percent. "But clearly we are not completely out of it yet."

Still, if given the choice between too few unemployed workers in Franklin County or too many, Ross said he will always take too few.

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