The Old Holiday Inn by the Commons.

Ithaca, N.Y. — Mayor Svante Myrick announced a new program this week to train Ithaca workers in the hospitality business.

It comes as the city has seen a boom in hotel construction.

The number of hotel rooms in Tompkins County has soared from about 1,600 in 2006 to more than 2,000 in 2013. At least 450 more are planned through 2015.

(Related: Ithaca’s hotel boom: Why are developers confident in the development?)

The new initiative, called the Hospitality Employment Training Program, is aimed at creating opportunities for Ithacans “who have traditionally been shut out,” the mayor said in a Facebook post.

The Old Holiday Inn by the Commons.
Ithaca has seen a hotel building boom. (Courtesy of Brian Crandall of “Ithacating.”)
Ithaca has seen a hotel building boom. (Courtesy of Brian Crandall of “Ithacating.”)

We’ve asked the mayor to come up with five reasons he’s excited about the new program.

Here’s what he told us:

1 – The jobs are coming

The Argos Inn, Holiday Inn Expansion, Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn and Marriott are all either completed or in process. That means we know dozens of new jobs will come on the market. This program will ensure that Ithacans in search of work now are ready when they get here.

Many of the existing hotels are already helping create the curriculum and have pledged to provide opportunities to graduates of the program.

2 – The jobs pay well

Hotel jobs — particularly management, front desk, and tipped jobs — pay mostly above a living wage.

And the jobs that pay only a minimum wage can be great rungs for climbing up the ladder if the employee has the skills to succeed. That’s why we’ve created this training program. Employees will hit the ground with a background that will enable them to climb quickly.

3 – No experience necessary

People with no work history — or a troubled work history — have the hardest time finding even entry level jobs. The HETP is designed specifically for those people. Instead of a blank resume, they’ll have positive experience and references to point to.

With new hotels being built throughout downtown we want to ensure that new economic opportunities are created for Ithacans who have traditionally been shut out.

4 – The new program targets the unemployed

Finding a job when you’ve been out of work is particularly difficult. Employers prefer to take people who have recently been working.

5 – The training is paid

Undergoing training and certification is one of the best things you can do for your career. But anyone living day to day will have an impossible time paying for a continued education. Even free programs take up time that could be spent working. The HETP program includes a stipend for participants. That way they can make money while improving their skills.

Those aged 18 to 35 are eligible, and preference will be given to city residents.

The mayor says you can contact Nagiane Lacka Arriaza, at 607-272-3622 or, to apply. In a Facebook post, he thanked city staff, GIAC and the IURA for helping create the program.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.