Sikeston economic leaders say large, new employer changing local job market, workforce

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SIKESTON, Mo. -- The opening of Orgill's Mid-America Super-Center is shaking up the local job market -- in a good way, the Sikeston Standard Democrat reported.

Orgill Inc., the world's largest independent distributor of home improvement products, opened its 795,000-square-foot distribution center at the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park on Aug. 3.

As anticipated, Orgill has hired almost 300 workers to staff the facility.

"They are at 260 and still hiring," said Ed Dust, director of the Sikeston Department of Economic Development.

"What a lot of people don't think about is when people go to work for Orgill is there's this rollover effect," said Missy Marshall, executive director for Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce. "Not only is Orgill looking for employees, we have other businesses that are looking for employees because their people have left to go to work for Orgill -- so it's a lot of opportunity for a lot of people."

"That always happens when you have a new major employer come in," Dust confirmed. "And those jobs are filled back up with other people looking for work."

Marshall said in years past when there were lots of positions and not enough workers in the workforce to fill them, people were moving around between jobs more often for a variety of reasons such as for better pay, better benefits packages or even better hours.

As the economy soured, the situation changed.

"There were more people looking for jobs than open positions so people were getting a job and staying put," Marshall said. "The rapid expansion in our country had stopped in the last year and half; jobs were not coming open as they had in the past."

But the addition of 250-300 new jobs can have a significant effect at the local level.

Marshall said a lot of people have seen Orgill opening as "an opportunity to change positions or even change careers."

When workers at other local industries make the move to Orgill, this opens up positions at those industries for those currently working in retail or restaurants to move up to industrial work, she said.

"So this is able to rollover many times," Marshall said. "It can be a domino effect."

But then, dominoes may not be an appropriate metaphor as the job shuffle doesn't bring things down so much as it builds "The the state workforce is going up to help Orgill with some training for their folk," Dust said. "This will give us a better trained labor force in our area and, as these people get the training for Orgill or other companies, that will increase our pool of trained labor."

And a pool of trained labor is always attractive for new prospective businesses.

While the job shuffle is good for workers and for the workforce in general, "it can be a pain for employers," Marshall said. "It's not fun to have to replace somebody and start over again; I don't know any employer that relishes that."

Marshall said it takes time for a business to get new employees up to speed.

"It's something you have to go through; its a process," she said. "And nobody wants to go through that process often."

Marshall said while businesses may not like the short-term pain of growth, they usually see the long-term benefits of the improved workforce.

"The more jobs that we can provide for the workers in southeast Missouri, the better off southeast Missouri is going to be," Dust said.

Following this job shuffle, "things will settle down for awhile until we get the next new employer in," Marshall said. "Then there's another shift and everybody has to make adjustments."

The bottom line, Marshall said, is that "it's very exciting to have a new company come in. We're happy to have Orgill here."

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