LIMA — The prospect of a job at Ford brought hundreds of people out very early Monday to Allen County Job and Family Services.
Ohio Means Jobs Allen County was handing out referral forms for people interested in a job at Lima Ford Engine Plant. The crowd clogged traffic, and hundreds left without a referral form, said Marilyn Horstman, workforce development supervisor for Allen County Job and Family Services and Ohio Means Jobs Allen County.
Horstman declined to say how many forms she was instructed by Ford to hand out. The work is for a new engine line at Lima Ford Engine Plant. The agency also helped Ford with hiring in 2010.
People started showing up in the parking lot as early as 3 a.m. The crowd grew large around 6:30 a.m. and was affecting traffic in the area by 7 a.m.
Job and Family Services officials had planned to hand out referral forms starting at 8:30 a.m., but the crowd meant that they began handing them out just past 7 a.m., Horstman said. The Job and Family Services parking lot on South Dixie Highway was full, Fourth Street was backed up and traffic was backed up over the Metcalf Street Bridge, Horstman said.
An Allen County sheriff's deputy was present at the scene, but that was planned. No one was arrested. ACERT was also present to manage traffic.
Ford has spent $500 million to build a new engine line at the Bath Township plant, and will add 300 jobs. The line will produce Ford's new 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine as an option for the redesigned F-150 pickup truck. The line has been under construction since 2012. Already, 825 hourly and 123 salaried workers are employed at the plant. Workers at the plant and from other Ford plants will be the first to be considered for positions on the new line.
The event was planned as a drive-through event; people were supposed to drive through and receive a referral form, which they will fill out and then return. The event was not formally advertised, Horstman said, but if people called the job center in Allen County and asked about Ford jobs, they were told about the event. Horstman also said she believed the news spread by word of mouth from people who already work at Ford.
Ford officials declined to be interviewed and the company released a statement, saying “As we continue to strategically grow our business, Ford Motor company is always looking for qualified applicants. Please check with your local state employment office for available opportunities.”
Horstman believed that everyone who was in the parking lot at the time they started handing out the form received one. People controlling traffic kept others from coming in the parking lot while officials distributed the forms. Horstman said they decided to start handing out the forms when they consulted with the deputy and decided it was the only way to clear the congestion.
People were driving from multiple counties away, Horstman said, and people were still calling about the event Monday morning, long after the forms were gone.