Nineteen-year-old Hunter Borba was among the first of hundreds of people expected to apply for the available jobs at the new Cascades Casino at Thursday’s hiring fair at the Lakeside Resort.
“Going to try and get into a gaming position here and if not I also kind of want to do some serving,” said Borba before going inside for his first interview. “I did some serving in my last job so I think that would be a nice transition those are the two things I really want to go for and and from what I hear it’s a good company.
“I just want to try something new you know, get to experience a few different things I’m still young, I’m only 19 years old and I want to get out there and try as much as I can. And from here I’ll just see where it goes, but (as a career choice) I’m open to it.”
Word about the 150 jobs at the casino, which is currently under construction, spread quickly.
Related: Casino recruitment drive
Michael Magnusson, general manager of Cascades Casino Penticton, said he received phone calls about the positions and is hoping to see 200 to 400 people at Thursday’s hiring fair (exact numbers of attendees weren’t available from the sessions at press deadline).
“It is a huge feeling of satisfaction to get to this point. What we have been seeing in the city with the economic boom, whether that is the hospital, prison or the Lakeside tower — it is all great things that help. The region is expanding and to contribute to the economic growth is a great feeling,” said Magnusson.
While he hopes he can fill the positions locally, especially with the opportunities to advance in the company, he does realize it can also be a draw to bring people from beyond the city limits.
“I’m hoping for a strong turnout of people not just from the South Okanagan, but also places like Kelowna and further. It is a pretty big ask to fill 150 new jobs in a small city. We hope we can inspire people to move to Penticton, bring their families and have an impact on the actual population. It is a win-win for everybody,” said Magnusson.
Student Stephanie Bowick was at the afternoon hiring session.
“I’m looking for something to get me through school and this would be good because it’s nights and evenings,” she said. “I’m applying for a server and a dealer so either one or both. I’ve served for three years and I love card games, so I would love to be able to play cards and not give out money.”
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said explosive growth in the construction and trades has provided a fair number of employment opportunities to a wide array of skill sets. Even when the projects are finished there are also jobs to be had.
“The casino is a great example. A year ago we were announcing the $25-million project. We were talking about how it would add to the entertainment hub at the SOEC campus. Now in just a couple of months we will be celebrating a local business expanding and almost doubling their employee base. That is a significant impact and that momentum is a good thing to celebrate,” said Jakubeit.
Last year the city set a record for construction permits. Jakubeit said the value was at $198-million compared to about $60-million the year before. He added numbers for January are already eclipsing the same month in their record year.
Related: Okanagan-wide construction boom
Besides the hospital, work is nearing completion on the six-storey, 70-room addition to the Penticton Lakeside Resort which will play host to media on Friday for a ceremony as the final beam is placed in the innovative mass timber project that consists of cross-laminated panels supplied by local company Structurlam.
Jakubeit said a labour market study completed by economic development showed 100 jobs that will be or are currently available in health care, trades and agriculture that need to be filled in the area. Having a diverse bank of jobs also makes the city more attractive to people in all stages of their lives and ensures the city is not reliant on one industry.
“There are jobs out there and it is really trying to match the right person to them. These aren’t industries that are difficult to get into either. They don’t require a four year degree or that sort of thing,” said Jakubeit.
“There are lots of projects coming and at least two of the larger construction companies I have talked to said they will be busy for at least another two or three years. You see projects like the Lakeside and other revitalization projects downtown and it becomes contagious. Other projects see those exciting things happening and want to keep up with the Joneses so to speak,” said Jakubeit.