Applications pour in to Alachua Lowe's


Published: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 9:12 p.m.

Lowe's Home Improvement has been deluged with applications for its new Alachua store, slated to open in late February.

In three weeks of hiring so far, the store has had 1,500 to 1,700 applications for 120-130 jobs, said Chris Ahearn, vice president of public relations.

In a normal economy, a new store would typically have as many as 1,000 applications, she said.

"We've noticed around the country that as the economy has declined we are having more and more applications at our stores, new stores in particular," Ahearn said.

Alachua Mayor Jean Calderwood said the response reflects the regional draw the city has for people interested in working at large employers situated near I-75 and U.S. 441 and not so much any weakness in the city's economy.

"Lowe's has a good reputation for being a good employer," she said. "With its location on I-75, it's potentially drawing from Columbia, Gilchrist, even from the Gainesville area."

Employment at major local companies like the Wal-Mart, Dollar General and Sysco warehouses remains steady, although with some fluctuation in the number of hours, Calderwood said. Hunter Marine went to a four-day work week, but Sandvik Mining and Construction seems to be going strong, she said.

Smaller businesses such as those on Main Street remain open, she said, and homes continue to sell and other indicators of business activity look solid.

"From all aspects of what I hear in terms of permits, site plans, comp plans, the activity has remained constant," Calderwood said. "What I see out on the streets is we are alive and doing well."

The new store is at 15910 NW 144th Terrace, just south of U.S. 441 on the west side of town. A temporary hiring office is nearby at 15202 NW 147th Drive in the Oaks Plaza. The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is (386) 462-3027.

Ahearn said they are hiring for all jobs, primarily customer service, as well as department manager positions. About 75 percent of the jobs in Lowe's stores are fulltime, although more part-timers are hired for spring and summer home improvement seasons.

Despite the recession and housing collapse, Lowe's continues to expand, although its rate of expansion has slowed in recent years. The company opened 153 new stores in 2007, 120 in 2008 and plans to open 75-80 in 2009, Ahearn said.

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