26,000 apply for 1,000 casino jobs

Detroit — More than 26,000 people have applied online for the 1,000 jobs MGM Grand Detroit intends to fill with the opening of its permanent USD 765 million hotel and casino complex later this year.

The deluge of applicants — a reflection of the region’s sagging economy — has come in the nearly three weeks since MGM Grand announced its hiring goals for the new entertainment complex at Third and Bagley streets.

About 300 people lined up Tuesday at MGM‘s job staffing center in downtown Detroit to use its computers to apply for positions in administration, environmental services, finance, food and beverage, hotel operations, human resources, marketing, security, table games, valet and wardrobe.

The staffing center, which opened for the first time Tuesday at 600 Woodbridge, will be used for job interviews and training. And the center has 25 computers available for those without access to a computer to file an application.

MGM‘s hiring has been a bright spot in an otherwise dour job market. Michigan has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, with the region reeling from the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the automotive industry. The region, too, has been stung by drug giant Pfizer Inc.’s plans to close its Ann Arbor compound and pull more than 2,000 jobs out of the area, and by Comerica Inc.’s decision to relocate its headquarters and 200 workers from Detroit to Dallas.

Many in line at MGM on Tuesday weren’t concerned about the per-hour wage. They just want work and a paycheck.

„I’ll take anything that is available,“ said Sharika Haywood, 21, of Detroit, one of the job-seekers in line Tuesday. „I’ve looked for a job every day. I’ve filled out applications but never get a call back. I’m hoping that something comes through here.“

Kara Holsing, MGM‘s director of staffing, was excited by the turnout. „Look at all these people,“ she said Tuesday outside the center. „I’m very proud to be part of a company that is providing job opportunities in Detroit. With all these applications, we have our work cut out for us, but it’s a great thing.“

Despite the flood of applications, Holsing doesn’t want to discourage individuals from applying. „The No. 1 thing we are looking for is the best candidates that will demonstrate excellent guest services.“
The casino will hire full- and part-time employees. The pay at MGM Grand Detroit varies by the type of job; most new jobs are covered by union contracts and are competitive with other casinos, MGM said. Officials declined to elaborate on wages.

Holsing said it takes about 20 minutes to fill out an application, which should include three references, employment and address history and education. The Web site is www.mgm1job.com.

Criminal background checks and drug testing will be done before hiring.

Other casinos building

When completed, MGM‘s permanent complex will have a staff of 3,400 — 1,000 more than at the temporary facility. The new complex will feature 100,000 square feet of gambling space, a 400-room hotel, an entertainment venue, meeting rooms, restaurants and retail space.

The city’s other casinos also are building permanent facilities. MotorCity Casino expects to begin hiring soon for its hotel and entertainment complex, slated to open in the fourth quarter of this year. MotorCity is enlarging and renovating its casino at Grand River and the Lodge. The casino has not determined its hiring needs.

The completion of the permanent Greektown Casino continues to lag behind the others; it’s scheduled to open in September 2008.

‚I need a job‘

MGM‘s hiring efforts couldn’t come at a better time for Terry Pardon, a 45-year-old father of three who lives in Harrison Township and was laid off from a construction job a week ago. „I need a job that pays and has benefits,“ he said. „I’m going to apply for a maintenance job. It’s tough finding a job anywhere in Michigan.“

Veneisha Boyce, 23, of Detroit was looking for a housekeeping or security position.

„But I’m looking for anything,“ said the single mother of a 3-year-old daughter. „It’s tough finding a job. I need a job with benefits.“

Guy Janicki, 64, of Grosse Pointe Woods said he can’t afford to retire and would like a job as a dealer or cashier. For the past 10 years, he has been a cashier at a downtown parking structure.

„I’ve been looking for work, but I just can’t find any,“ he said.

„It’s pretty rough in the job world.“