Community leaders and developers of the Arundel Mills mall under construction in Hanover are holding a series of job fairs over the next few months to recruit workers from around the county for construction and retail positions.
The announcement yesterday, part of a community outreach effort by Arundel Mills, came minutes after company officials presented Van Bokkelen Elementary School Principal Rose Tasker with $3,000 to use toward a new playground at the Severn school, a few miles from the mall site.
FOR THE RECORD - An article in the March 4 Anne Arundel edition of The Sun incorrectly stated that Arundel Mills mall is involved with recruiting local residents for jobs. A series of job fairs for construction jobs at the site is being run by two members of the community, Lewis Bracy and Dave Cool. Mall developers encourage prospective workers to call Bracy and Cool at 401-551- 7600 and 401-799-3373, respectively.
The Sun regrets the error.
"We want to improve the quality of life in the West County area," said Lewis Bracy, a community activist who has been working closely with Arundel Mills on both the playground project and the job fairs. He said the company has been "very receptive."
Although the mall project has been criticized for its size and potential environmental impact, company officials said yesterday that they want to be good neighbors and plan to continue making contributions to the community after the mall is open.
Arundel Mills estimates that the mall will employ 3,500 workers, and Bracy said those jobs could help transform the largely impoverished community of Meade Village, where the next job fair will be held on March 22. He estimated that nearly half the residents there are on public assistance or in subsidized housing.
"Even after the project is up and running, [the company] will continue to remain involved in the community," said Dennis Connolly, a vice president at Arundel Mills who spoke yesterday to an assembly of Van Bokkelen pupils and teachers.
In addition to having 200 stores, restaurants and movie theaters, the mall will include a child-care center and a retail-skills training center.
"We're hooking individuals up with opportunities to improve on their skills and move along to a career," said Bridget Dunn, head of the Mills Access to Training and Career Help (MATCH) program. "What we want to do is build a very excellent work force."
Bracy and fellow job fair coordinator Dave Cool said 78 people from the Severn area went to the first job fair at Van Bokkelen Elementary last Saturday to apply for positions at the mall construction site. While none of the applicants has been put to work yet, Mills officials said, demand for construction workers will increase as the weather improves.
Both school and community leaders said they are excited about the company's contributions.
"This is great for our community," said Tina Hunley, a county family outreach services worker stationed at Van Bokkelen. "Once the construction is over, they won't have jobs anymore, but the training will still be there. They're working with skilled people, learning a major trade."