With only about five weeks before the Wegmans at 5th Street Station opens, workers are moving equipment and dry goods into the store and company personnel met privately Wednesday with local officials and community organizations.
The meeting at the nearly completed store between Fifth and Avon streets was part of the company’s plan to work with local governments and community organizations, said Jo Natale, head of Wegmans public relations.
“One of the things we saw was how collaborative the community here is,” Natale said.
Officials from Charlottesville’s parks and recreation and economic development departments, two area food banks, the health department, the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center and Charlottesville City Schools attended the meeting.
Wegmans officials met last week to discuss job opportunities and company culture with students at CATEC, said Daphne Keiser, the center’s strategic planning officer. Keiser said she hopes the store opening means career-ladder work for CATEC’s culinary students.
“It gives the students a way to think about different goals and ways to meet those goals,” she said. “Maybe they cannot start in one area of the store because they are too young or don’t have the right experience, but if they work really hard, the folks at Wegmans will give them the opportunity.”
The store, which opens Nov. 6, has between 80 and 100 mostly part-time job openings left, said store manager Chris Depumpo. Hiring has been a long process, he said, with workers at the hiring center in the Ix Building filtering through about 6,000 applications for 200 full-time and 350 part-time positions.
Most of the hires have been local, he said, with a few from outlying counties and Staunton and Waynesboro.
While the store is in Albemarle County, officials in the city of Charlottesville expect the company to bring long-term job opportunities for residents of both localities.
“From our perspective, we are looking at it from the type of jobs that Wegmans is going to bring to the area and the number,” said Hollie Lee, with the city’s economic development office. “There is really a career-ladder opportunity with Wegmans. … There were a number of company representatives there today, and they had all been there 20 and 30 years.”
Timothy Hulbert, president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he was impressed with how quickly the 5th Street Station development as a whole changed over the summer.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “In the space of six months, a whole city has gone in there.”
The Albemarle location will be the third store the company has opened in Virginia this year. Stores in Midlothian and Short Pump opened over the summer.
The company, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, plans to open a store in Chantilly in 2018 and one in Tysons Corner, but has not finalized an opening date. The first Virginia store opened in 2004 in the Dulles area, and was followed by more stores across Northern Virginia.
Hulbert said the November opening cannot come soon enough.
“I have been talking about bringing Wegmans here for the last 10 years now,” he said. “It just shows that sometimes the wheels of commerce and government turn slowly.”