Hiring haven

A Wal-Mart is com­ing to the Ara­mingo Cross­ings Shop­ping Cen­ter in Port Rich­mond. It's bring­ing more than 300 to the area.

A new Wal­mart is be­ing built in the Ara­mingo Cross­ings Shop­ping Cen­ter in Port Rich­mond. It will cre­ate more than 300 jobs open­ings.

With nearly 10,000 loc­a­tions world­wide, it may not be sur­pris­ing news to learn that in a few months a Wal-Mart store plans to open in the Ara­mingo Cross­ings Shop­ping Cen­ter on Ara­mingo Av­en­ue at But­ler Street.

But to hear Bhupit “Bubba” Bo­hra tell it, it’s not hard to see the po­ten­tial this store has to cre­ate op­por­tun­it­ies for res­id­ents.

Bo­hra is the store man­ager of the new Wal-Mart, which is pro­ject­ing a spring open­ing. On Feb. 10, he was present at the tem­por­ary hir­ing cen­ter set up at 2301 E. Al­legheny Ave. to fill more than 300 jobs by the time of the store’s grand open­ing.

With the help of Kens­ing­ton Im­pact Ser­vices, a non-profit group that works to provide em­ploy­ment, train­ing and oth­er ser­vices to res­id­ents, the new Wal-Mart loc­a­tion on Ara­mingo Av­en­ue will bring work to a com­munity where new jobs have been sparse.

“The hir­ing cen­ter has been open for ap­prox­im­ately two weeks now and we have got­ten over two-thou­sand ap­plic­ants so far,” said Bo­hra. “We are look­ing for can­did­ates with dif­fer­ing back­grounds, and we want to hire with­in this com­munity, which is our primary fo­cus. It could be people with an ex­tens­ive re­tail back­ground, or someone just out of high school that is look­ing to start a new ca­reer. Either way, they de­serve the op­por­tun­ity and we have the ne­ces­sary re­sources to train them.”

Bo­hra said he treats the hir­ing of ap­plic­ants very ser­i­ously. In fact, be­fore he began his ca­reer with the Wal-Mart cor­por­a­tion, he star­ted where a lot of job ap­plic­ants are now — with little train­ing or ex­per­i­ence but fueled by a de­sire to learn a ca­reer to bet­ter them­selves.

Bo­hra said he star­ted “be­low rock-bot­tom” as an overnight stock­er at an Eph­rata, Pa., Wal-Mart in 2001. It took just six years of hard work to get from “rock bot­tom” to store man­ager for Bo­hra, years that were rife with op­por­tun­ity, he re­called.

“I knew noth­ing about re­tail, to the point where at the time I didn’t know a hot dog from a ham­burger,” Bo­hra said. “But I had entered a fam­ily en­vir­on­ment with friendly as­so­ci­ates who taught me everything, and what everything meant. I look at my­self and where I star­ted, with hopes and a de­sire to achieve fu­ture goals. If I can help give something back to people in this com­munity that I re­ceived my­self at one point, it is the biggest sat­is­fac­tion of my job.”

The store is hir­ing both full- and part-time as­so­ci­ates for em­ploy­ment in all areas of the store, from entry-level to su­per­vis­ory po­s­i­tions.

Though activ­ity with­in the hir­ing cen­ter had slowed a bit by mid-af­ter­noon last Fri­day, there were still plenty of hope­fuls filling out ap­plic­a­tions and wait­ing to be in­ter­viewed for a pos­sible po­s­i­tion.

Most spoke of ex­cite­ment at the op­por­tun­ity to en­hance a ca­reer with one of the largest re­tail­ers in the world.

“So far it’s been a pos­it­ively over­whelm­ing re­sponse,” said Randy Hofer, dir­ect­or of mar­ket­ing for Im­pact Ser­vices, the group that has been as­sist­ing with the hir­ing cen­ter. “It’s good for this spe­cif­ic neigh­bor­hood, es­pe­cially with­in a one-to-two-mile ra­di­us. The loc­a­tion is ideal for pub­lic trans­port­a­tion and will bring more busi­ness to be­ne­fit the Ara­mingo Cross­ings cor­ridor.”

Not only will the Wal-Mart aid people who des­per­ately need work in a still-strug­gling eco­nomy, but it should be at­tract­ive to loc­al shop­pers in search of af­ford­able prices.

City Coun­cil­man Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.), who rep­res­ents the area where the store will open, likes what he sees of the store and its im­pact on the fu­ture.

“The open­ing of this store is go­ing to make the neigh­bor­hood grow big time, and that’s key from my per­spect­ive,” Squilla said.

He also has been tout­ing a new “Clean and Green” ini­ti­at­ive to help brings jobs and safety to down­trod­den areas in the dis­trict.

“We want people to find a job, be able to buy a house and to send their kids to school with­in the com­munity. By do­ing so, we hope to cre­ate a wider tax base, get more people work­ing to pay in­to the wage-tax sys­tem, and ul­ti­mately lower taxes,” he said.

The Wal-Mart hir­ing cen­ter is part of that on­go­ing pro­cess.

ldquo;We are look­ing for people who want to grow and make a dif­fer­ence in their lives. They have something to bring to the table, and that’s a start,” Bo­hra said. “As our busi­ness con­tin­ues to grow, so will the people that we add to our team.” ••

The Wal-Mart hir­ing cen­ter, at 2301 E. Al­legheny Ave., will con­tin­ue ac­cept­ing ap­plic­a­tions on Monday, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tues­day and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sat­urday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the next two weeks.

If can­did­ates can­not get to the tem­por­ary hir­ing cen­ter, they can ap­ply on­line at www.Wal-Martstores.com/ca­reers

Re­port­er Ed Mor­rone can be reached at Ed­ward.mor­rone@gmail.com

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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