Atlantic City is planning additional job training as three casinos prepare to shut down over the next few weeks, putting thousands of workers on the street.
During a conference call with national media Tuesday to address the upcoming shutdowns this weekend of the Showboat and Revel, Mayor Don Guardian said an effort to provide employment training and identify opportunities for unemployed workers will begin by October. It will be funded by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and is designed to help 1,200 workers a year.
"Our hearts go out to our neighbors and friends," he said.
Trump Plaza will close on Sept. 16. Nearly 8,000 workers will lose their jobs when the three casinos shut down.
The mayor said he expects 20 to 30 percent of the laid off workers to take jobs in the casino industry in other states; the Maryland Live! casinos has held three recruiting fairs in Atlantic City in recent months. An additional 10 percent are nearing retirement age, and will probably take that option, he added.
Job training, and the possibility of finding work at one of the remaining eight casinos, or one of the 1,300 new private sector jobs expected to be created soon in Atlantic City, including the Bass Pro Shops outlet, could help at least some of the rest of the laid-off workers, Guardian said.
Financial details of the job training program were not immediately available.
Programs will also be offered through Atlantic Cape Community College.
Guardian says he knows of nothing likely to stop the Showboat and Revel from shutting down this weekend.
Tourism and economic development officials say they expect the remaining eight casinos to be stronger financially, and stress there is still plenty for visitors to do in Atlantic City.
"I can't stress enough that Atlantic City is open for business," said Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance, the casino-funded group that promotes Atlantic City to potential visitors elsewhere in the country.
Mark Giannantonio, president of Resorts Casino Hotel, said struggling casinos can turn around their fortunes — just as his has done.
"Five years ago, it was at the top of the list to close," he said.
But a new owner, real estate investor Morris Bailey, pumped $70 million into it, and created the successful Margaritaville entertainment complex — the sort of non-gambling attraction upon which Atlantic City is betting its future.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC