SHADY GROVE, Pa.—Manitowoc, Franklin County's fourth largest employer, expects to hire 200 employees in the first half of this year, according to company officials.
"The hiring process has begun and interviews are being conducted weekly," Mark Johnston, director of human resources for Manitowoc Cranes Americas, wrote in an e-mail Thursday.
That is in addition to the approximately 200 employees the company added in 2010.
"We currently have opportunities for a variety of production and professional positions," Johnston wrote.
A world leader in the construction industry, Manitowoc makes lattice-boom cranes, tower cranes, mobile telescopic cranes and boom trucks. Telescopic cranes are made at the Shady Grove plant.
Production positions include opportunities for welders, painters, assemblers, machine operators, and supervisors. Johnston said the positions are mainly for the second shift.
Professional positions include opportunities in engineering, purchasing, safety and information systems.
"We have seen an increase in orders for the first half of the year. We believe this increase in demand is due to a variety of reasons — impact of stimulus spending in construction; our dealer's inventories reaching a point requiring an increase in orders and continued strength of emerging markets. We certainly hope these are initial indicators the economy is improving," Johnston wrote.
L. Michael Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp., said he is optimistic that the economy is turning around.
"We're very encouraged, right now that 2011 has the prospects — unless something catastrophic would happen internationally — of being a very, very good year," Ross said.
Franklin County's unemployment rate was 7.4 percent for December 2010, compared to 8.5 percent for the state and 9.4 percent for the nation, according to Pennsylvania's Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.
"As the Manitowocs increase (production), the fabricators and the machine shops that dot the countryside are also experiencing an increase in demand for production — all of which is starting to translate into hiring," Ross said.
"It's good news for this community. It's good news for the region. It's good news for the state."
The Shady Grove facility currently employs about 1,300 workers, including approximately 800 production employees and 500 staff positions in engineering, finance, sales, purchasing and customer service.
Two years ago, Manitowoc laid off more than 700 of its Shady Grove workforce.
"We are certainly interested in rehiring former employees, but they are not necessarily the first to be hired," Johnston wrote.
All candidates, including former employees, must apply for current openings, Johnston said in the email.
Candidates can apply for positions through the PA Career Link or directly through www.manitowoc.com/careers.
Along with the manufacturing sector gaining momentum, Ross said things are falling in line for the area's strong logistics sector.
"We are fully anticipating that the Norfolk Southern Intermodal terminal will be fully under construction within the next 60-90 days, and you have the CSX Intermodal terminal that is fully operational in Chambersburg," Ross said.
And the decision to build a Macy's fulfillment distribution center in Martinsburg, WVa., could mean 1,900 jobs for the region.