By Erick Johnson, Gary Crusader
Gary residents read all about it. Polish those resumes and brush up on those interviewing skills. Hundreds of new jobs are coming to the city.
HMD Trucking, a growing Chicago-area business, is moving to Gary and will build a new facility that will hire locals first as part of an agreement with the city.
It’s an unprecedented deal that could bring much-needed jobs to Gary and give the city’s economy a healthy boost.
HMD plans to build the new facility at 1350 Texas Street, nearly three miles or six minutes from City Hall. One of the fastest growing independent trucking companies in the Chicago area, the 19-year-old business plans to expand its operations to the city and hire about 500 people to work at its new Gary facility. HMD is seeking truck drivers and administrative employees to staff its new facility.
Recently, the plans were disclosed when the Gary Redevelopment Commission gave their approval to several city ordinances that will give $1.1 million from bonds to help HMD relocate to Gary. The city also will be covering costs of repairs to 15th Avenue to provide direct access from Interstate 65 to their proposed site on Texas Street. The deal was negotiated by compliance officer Tammi Davis.
As part of the negotiations, Davis secured guarantees from HMD Trucking that Gary residents must be the first hired at the new facility. She said that HMD has agreed to file annual reports that will include information on the residential status of every new employee and they must report the cause for laying off or terminating an employee.
Officials from HMD Trucking did not respond to an email from the Crusader, but Davis said the company is expected to break ground in August with a completion date in March 2018.
Gary officials expressed concern that HMD faces potential fines if they fail to develop in-house training programs. HMD is also restricted from using a Gary resident’s criminal record as a factor against hiring them. HMD said they expect only about a half-dozen executives to transfer from Chicago Ridge to Gary.
It’s an unusual hiring agreement that is the first of its kind in Gary. Activists in Gary and major cities around the country have historically demanded companies hire locally in predominantly Black neighborhoods, their efforts usually fall short when it comes to holding firms accountable for fair hiring practices. The agreement between HMD Trucking and Gary could be a significant turning point for activists.
Davis said that the Gary agreement is the first of its kind in the city. She went on to say that as the city recruits more companies, Gary will seek similar ways to encourage companies to hire locals first.
The company is currently accepting applications on its website, but there is no mention of the new agreement or plans for the new facility. Davis said the HMD Trucking must sponsor job fairs for Gary residents and must advertise when they begin hiring.
According to its website, HMD Trucking was founded in March of 1998 by Henry Malukas, who started the business with his wife, Daiva, “when he discovered the expanding transportation opportunities in the six county areas surrounding Chicago.”
Since its inception, HMD Trucking has served 1,500 customers and has a fleet of 500 trucks and 900 trailers. On its website, HMD Trucking said the company “has been highly successful in securing good margin opportunities in over-the-road and contract hauling, so the company’s growth has been phenomenal.”
In January, HMD Trucking began offering $1,000 bonuses to its drivers if they recruit and help the company hire experienced drivers.
On its website, HMD Trucking said 2016 was “a great year for HMD Trucking,” noting the company bought more than 100 new tractors and more than 200 trailers. HMD Trucking offices “saw some big changes, too, for we have doubled our work force over the last two years. Currently, we are working on upgrading and modernizing our operation systems. Even more growth and changes are foreseen in 2017, that’s why next year will be even better.”
This year, the website highlighted that HMD Trucking expects “continued volume growth not only in shipments, but also in market share.”