Continental Tire looking to add jobs

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Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist- Ryan Brooker

MT. VERNON, Ill. - Mt. Vernon's largest employer, Continental Tire, is looking to hire several hundred new employees - bringing in new families and new opportunities in a county that has an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent. And the people who live here say that's much needed good news.

"General Tire is pretty much the backbone now," Tami Hoddes said.

But she says it hasn't always been that way. She remembers when the coal mines were the booming industry, until many closed their doors. "The towns have all went to pot and stuff because that used to be the backbone of southern Illinois," she added.

Hoddes believes Mt. Vernon and the surrounding communities are still having a difficult time making up for it, but she hopes her company's expansion turns the tide. "This is the best paying job in southern Illinois right now," Hoddes told Local 6.

"We're very pleased with them expanding," replied Judy Gilliam.

Down the street from the plant - and inside the Spot Tavern - Gilliam is thrilled she could be getting some new customers.

"That's our business," Gilliam said with a smile.

She says about 80 percent of her bottom line comes from Continental's work force. "If something happened to them out there, it would really hurt us. We would probably close down."

For now, that's not in the cards and Continental's human resource director says Mt. Vernon is a great city for his company.

"We take a lot of pride in being in Mt. Vernon," TJ McKinney said.

He says the plant saw a need for expansion in 2009, but the recession slowed production. Now, he's ready to pick up speed again and increase output - which last year topped more than 12 million tires.

"We're in a good situation when we can hire and provide jobs to people especially in a small community or a community like Mt. Vernon," McKinney stated.

Even though the company hasn't officially announced they are hiring, McKinney says they are starting the initial process of filling hundreds of jobs by the end of the year.

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