Bridgestone is getting bombarded with applications after announcing 200 job openings on Monday morning for its Graniteville tire plant.


According to Bridgestone Vice President of Administrative Services Fran Jones, the company received 4,874 applications as of late Tuesday morning. That surpasses the number of applicants from last year's hiring phase, which was 3,517, and the application process for those positions was open for a month.


“We're very happy that people want to come work with us and are overwhelmed by the numbers,” Jones said.


The response to these job openings are “certainly a sign of the times,” Jones said, adding that South Carolina has a hot job market right now with lots of good positions available in this area.


The convenience of applying online is probably also contributing to the high number of applications, she said.


Lee Willing, operator of the SC Works Center, said the online applications were still running at a “phenomenal” rate on Tuesday afternoon. He said his office had a pretty strong turnout of applicants coming in for assistance.


“It's been a fair turnout,” Willing said. “It's not been overwhelming, and traffic flow has been pretty reasonable.”


Will Williams, director of the Economic Development Partnership for Aiken and Edgefield counties, said the application response is “tremendous,” and it's not surprising as Bridgestone has strived to be a highly desirable place to work.


“The PSR (passenger car radial) plant is the flagship plant in all performance metrics of their North American plants, and I expect the ORR (off-road radial) facility will be in that same category when they are fully operational,” Williams wrote in an email. “Over the years, Aiken County Council and (Economic Development Partnership) have worked diligently to attract quality companies that provide good employment opportunities such as these. It's very exciting to see people have a chance to better themselves and respond accordingly.”


Bridgestone will take people in the order in which they applied when going through the process of reviewing applications, Jones said.


Once the hiring phase closes, the applications will be kept on hand for future job openings, she said. Bridgestone expects additional job openings in 2015, Jones said.


Bridgestone currently is looking to fill 200 full-time machine technician positions. Manufacturing experience and a high school diploma or GED are preferred, but not required, as Bridgestone will offer training.


Starting pay is $14 an hour, and workers will top out at $24.32 after a 150-week training period. These employees will get a bump in pay every 25 weeks.


These jobs include a benefits package that includes medical, dental and vision insurance, a 401K plan, tuition match and more.


Applications are only accepted online. To apply, visit www.readysc.org/bato. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 16 at midnight.


If anyone needs assistance or Internet access, they can apply at the employment office located at 1571 Richland Ave. E. in Aiken.


Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard. She has been with the publication since May 2010.


She is a native of Rustburg, Va., and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College.