LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — One year ago, many Floridians were dealing with job losses and layoffs from the pandemic as businesses were forced to make tough cuts to stay afloat. Now, as demand for products and services rebound, so too is Central Florida’s job market and local businesses are working to find ways to drive in fresh talent. 

What You Need To Know

  • Taylor Oelke works as a personal shopper for the Kroger Fulfillment Network in Groveland

  • By using an automated facility together with workers, the grocery delivery hub gets fresh produce and groceries to customers from Sarasota all the way to Daytona Beach

  • The center is seeing a demand for their services and is looking to hire more associates like Oelke

“I’m loving it, it’s been amazing,” said Taylor Oelke, a personal shopper working for the Kroger Fulfillment Network in Groveland, Fla. 

Oelke has only worked at the Kroger Fulfillment Center for two weeks, but she's already feeling at home in her new job.

“I really wanted something where I’d be able to come in, work really hard during the day and then just kind of put it away and go home," she said. "So it’s been great for that. I can come in, get a great day of work in and then not have all the stress associated with like an office job or something like that. But then the pay is amazing, too."

Kroger’s Fulfillment Center in Groveland is a new grocery delivery hub. By using an automated facility together with workers, they're able to quickly get fresh produce and groceries to customers from Sarasota all the way to Daytona Beach without customers ever stepping foot inside the building. 

They recently opened the Lake County facility, but are already seeing massive demand for their services, so they’re offering jobs starting at $15 an hour to make sure they’re hiring quality staff.

“We’ve actually really ramped up our hiring because, thankfully, we’ve been really accepted in this community already and a lot of excitement is behind us," said Brandon McBurney, General Manager for the Kroger Fulfillment Network. "We’ve hired over 400 associates right now and we are hiring a good another 200 to 300 toward the end of the year, depending on where we come in with sales."

“I think right now, there are great opportunities in the region and definitely looking at great paying jobs,” said Nilda Blanco, Senior Director of Business Intelligence for CareerSource Central Florida. 

Blanco said all industries in the region are in a hiring boom and wages are climbing, too. It's allowing job seekers to be picky about where they want to work.

Construction, IT, education and health care are needing to hire, Blanco said. While industries like hospitality and tourism are focused on bringing workers back, new industries are surging too, due to a shift in buying habits in the pandemic. 

“Now you can order food, you can order your groceries, you can order delivery almost of everything to your home, and so there is a real demand in logistics and transportation, truck drivers, warehouse workers, sorters,”​ Blanco said. 

That demand, together with the convenience of her new job, is what led Oelke to Kroger. And already, she said, her new career is a perfect fit. 

“To be able to work somewhere where you know you’re providing affordable, fresh product and to be able to use it yourself has been great,” Oelke said.