Casino draws job seekers to employment fair Tuesday in Cape

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Construction continues at the Isle of Capri casino site Thursday, June 7, 2012 in Cape Girardeau. The opening date of the casino has been pushed up two months and is now slated to open on November 1. (Laura Simon)

Job seekers who poured into the Show Me Center on Tuesday said they had hopes of finding better employment opportunities for themselves at the Isle of Capri's Cape Girardeau casino opening this fall.

About 50 people were in line when the first of three information sessions began at 8 a.m., said Jill Alexander, Isle spokeswoman. About 300 people attended the three sessions Tuesday. Additional sessions are scheduled from 8 to 11 a.m., noon to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

About a dozen department heads have already been hired for Isle's Cape Girardeau casino, expected to employ 450 workers total.

The jobs will have a significant positive effect on unemployment in the area, said John Mehner, president and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, which partnered with Isle to host the information sessions. The Cape Girardeau Metropolitan Statistical Area, as designated by the U.S. Census Bureau, had an unemployment rate in May of 6.6 percent.

Many who attended Tuesday already have jobs but were looking for something better.

"There will be both people who are gainfully employed right now changing jobs, which opens positions for other people as well as those who are not gainfully employed," Mehner said. "Also, I think, it may tap a market of people who have not worked by choice for a while, either early retirees or trailing spouses who might be excited by that as an opportunity."

Three men, ages 51, 29, and 46, who work at a hospital said they came to the Isle job fair looking for a more positive work environment.

"I like to come to work with a smile and leave with a smile," said the 51-year-old Cape Girardeau man who works in food and beverage services at a hospital. The man asked not to be named so his current employer would not know he was looking for another job.

A 55-year-old woman who also asked not to be named currently deals blackjack in Metropolis, Ill., said working in Cape Girardeau would cut her hourlong commute from her home in Southern Illinois in half.

"The way gas is, I'm looking to save a buck," said the woman, who has been a full-time dealer for six years. She said with tips, she earns between $29 and $35 an hour and expects dealer earnings at Cape Girardeau's casino will be similar.

Casino officials would not disclose any compensation information for the available positions, saying only that the company offers pay that is competitive for like positions in the area.

Hiring is being done based on when the casino needs to begin training the employees and when they need to begin working, explained Alexander. The next group to be hired will be table games dealers, who must complete a six- to eight-week training course.

About 250 students are expected to attend Isle's dealer school set to begin in Cape Girardeau the week of Aug. 1.

Each department, including food and beverage, security and surveillance, table games and slots, accounting and finance, IT support and marketing set up tables in the Show Me Center where prospective candidates could talk with casino representatives about the various positions available.

Like other large Cape Girardeau employers, officials expect many of Isle's employees will come from outside the Cape Girardeau area.

"We are a significant importer of labor. A lot of people who work in Cape County don't live in Cape County," Mehner said.

About 15,000 workers commute daily to Cape Girardeau from other counties, said Dr. Bruce Domazlicky, director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Southeast Missouri State University.

The addition of 450 jobs in Cape Girardeau may not be directly reflected in the local unemployment rate, but instead in county unemployment rates throughout the region, he said.

"The impact of the addition of jobs in Cape County partly depends on where the new workers come from. Since unemployment in Cape County is relatively low compared to other counties, it frequently means that many new jobs in the county may actually be filled by commuters from outside the county," Domazlicky said.

During the first quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate across 24 Southeast Missouri counties was at 8.9 percent -- significantly higher than the Cape Girardeau area's rate of 6.6 percent, according to the Southeast Missouri Business Indicators report compiled by the Center for Economic and Business Research at the university.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

1333 N. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

777 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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