Area residents filled the parking lot at The Mill at Lebanon, created their own parking spaces and even packed lots nearby Thursday in hopes of being hired by Amazon during the companys most recent job fair.
Lines filled the floor of The Mill and wrapped around walls with people even waiting outside the door an hour before the event to get the first spots in line. Melinda Williams, administrator of marketing and outreach for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said they had already seen well in excess of 1,000 people during the first two hours.
We estimate over 2,800 came through the event today. It was a huge success, Williams said.
She noted, We had them outside the doors at 8 a.m., waiting to get in.Williams said Amazon is looking to hire up to 2,000 people and said there are currently 1,800 seasonal and temporary positions available at the companys fulfillment center in Lebanon.
Applicants had to be 18 years or older, speak fluent English without a translator and have proof of obtaining a GED or high school diploma. SMX Management, a staffing agency in charge of hiring for Amazon, repeatedly walked through the mass of people to repeat qualifications.
Its obvious that people want to work, and there are a lot of unemployed people out there, Williams said.
Wilson Countys most recent unemployment data showed 4,950 individuals were unemployed locally. The unemployment rate for August was 8.1 percent, up from 7.9 percent in the previous month.
The job fair had previously been scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 6, but was moved when Gov. Bill Haslam announced an agreement with Amazon for the company to collect and remit sales taxes by 2014.
Williams said the partnership between Amazon and the Department of Labor has been very beneficial for the state and the local community. She pointed out The Mill was full all day as people showed up to apply for jobs.
Although the available positions are seasonal or temporary, Williams said its a chance for people to get their foot in the door. With the holiday season coming up, she said its the best time to hire people. The holiday season is the busiest and most profitable time of the year for retailers, and she said it will also give people money to spend during the season.
Its an opportunity for people to possibly get hired full-time with experience, she said.
Amazon is also reportedly the Project Tango company that has been recruited by Lebanon and Wilson County the past several months. Amazon could possibly locate another facility here that could employee either another 500 or 1,000 people next year.
By PATRICK HALL / Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.