n the first floor of the Northampton Community College’s Fowler Family Southside Center, casino worker hopefuls will be able to fill out job applications on a computer and later interview for one of the 1,000 jobs that will be created when the casino opens as early as Memorial Day.
The number of jobs is about 800 less than anticipated last year when the Sands was planning to open up a hotel/convention center and retail project at the same time as the casino. That portion has been put on hold until the economy picks up.
But any time a company can create 1,000 jobs - especially during a recession - is welcome news in the Lehigh Valley, said Paul Pierpoint, NCC dean of community education. ’’Long before the economy went in the can, people were interested in working at the Sands,’’ Pierpoint said. ’’This is a bright spot in a fairly gloomy job picture.’’
Unemployment in the Lehigh Valley reached 6.5 % in November. Newspaper headlines document daily the credit crunch and real estate slump. Because of the ailing economy, the Sands postponed work on the 300-room hotel and 18,580 sqm mall portions of the project, but Sands officials expect to invest the money made on the us$ 743 million casino into getting the retail and hotel projects back on track.
Already on the Web site, the Sands posted job descriptions ranging from those trained in information technology to valet dispatchers. The Sands expects an estimated 10,000 people will apply for the jobs.
Jarrod Buzzard, a Northampton Community College culinary student, plans to be among the first submitting his application. With a dream to one day work under a big-name chef in Las Vegas and then come back to the Valley to open his own restaurant, Buzzard views the Sands as a convenient way to get his foot in the door.
Bob Wendt, director of research for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., knows of no other mass hiring frenzy in the Lehigh Valley. He said he expected a lot of applicants to come from NCC’s hospitality program but also wondered if employees from the ailing Atlantic City casinos would be looking to Pennsylvania for jobs. "With upwards of a 7 % unemployment rate, anyone hiring is a very welcome thing," Wendt said.