© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ardmore job fair helps make connections for Dollar Tree workers impacted by tornadoes

Anna Pope
Vendors wait for people at their booths in large room at the Ardmore Convention Center.

David Wade had been a housekeeper at the Dollar Tree Distribution Center in Marietta for a decade.

He knew every square inch of the facility.

“Well, I think one trip around is a mile. So I did that at least, I don't know, five to 10 times a day every day. Yeah, that's a lot of walking so there's a lot of memories,” Wade said.

But, Wade’s time at the center ended abruptly on April 27. In a round of destructive storms, an EF-4 tornado struck the one-million-square-foot Dollar Tree Center where he worked outside the City of Marietta.

The center employed about 450 people and a company spokesperson said in an email the distribution center can’t be reopened in the foreseeable future. That leaves Wade and his coworkers without a job.

He and others packed into the Ardmore Convention Center earlier this week for the Dollar Tree Distribution Center Rapid Response and Hiring Fair Event.

Oklahoma Works hosted the fair for workers impacted by April 27 tornadoes that carved a path through Southern Oklahoma.

The Dollar Tree spokesperson said employees will receive pay continuation through June 22 plus severance packages, benefits and access to Emotional Wellbeing Solutions resources.

Wade was planning on retiring from the center, but he has to work a bit longer. At the fair, several opportunities caught his attention.

Fifty vendors, including the Chickasaw Nation, were at the fair to connect people to positions or resources. For Tyler Wilkins, a talent acquisition specialist for the tribal nation, helping people find positions after losing their jobs because of a disaster means a lot.

“It's just a different way to get out and serve your community,” Wilkins said. “You get to meet a lot of great people with a lot of great skill sets. And you can really find them a good position that fits their needs and helps them to provide for their families when they're going through a difficult time.”

While people spoke with employers in one room, others attended informational sessions available in Spanish and English.

Amanda Hartman is a one-stop operator for the Southern Workforce Board, an organization collaborating with Oklahoma Works on the event.

“I definitely think that there is an opportunity for them to find employment here today,” Hartman said. “Everyone we have here, we invited and we made sure they are hiring now. And we made sure that it's good quality jobs that are paying the same so that they can continue to grow their career.”

The Dollar Tree destruction came at a rough time for the region. Last fall, the Michelin Tire Plant in Ardmore, about 18 miles north of Marietta, announced it would stop tire production in 2025. About 1,400 people were expected to lose their jobs. In March, there was a Michelin Employee Career Fair.

Hartman said it is a challenge to lose two large employers in the area, but the community supports those workers, and industries have been reaching out to hire locally.

“They're actually here helping - just being a helping hand with us today, which is great,” Hartman said of Michelin. “So we did invite their employees as well and really anyone in about an hour radius who has lost their job due to the spring storms, we said, ‘Come on out, we want to see you here.’”

* indicates required

Anna Pope is a reporter covering agriculture and rural issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.
Related Content