New casino in Rohnert Park to hire 2,000 people

April 22, 2013 6:30:12 PM PDT
Thousands of applicants are getting a chance to work for what will soon be one of Sonoma County's biggest employers. Interviews began Monday for 2,000 job seekers at the new Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park. It's a process most of us know and some of us know too well -- getting interviewed for a job.

The unemployment rate in Sonoma County is about 7.3 percent so when it comes to job openings, there's a lot of interest. Asked what the job market like, job applicant Ryan Winkler said, "Pretty tough, it seems. I've been applying to a lot of places. I've had a few other interviews for places but nobody's really offered me anything yet."

He and dozens of others like him went to an office in Rohnert Park Monday afternoon hoping that maybe it would be different this time. There are certainly enough openings.

"We're going to hire 2,000 people so we've got a long way to go," said Joe Hasson with Station Casinos. He's the general manager of what, by the end of the year, will be the Graton Rancheria Casino, run by Station Casinos, a company out of Las Vegas.

As the $800 million resort rises west of Highway 101, the first job applicants, about 100, went to the other side of town to see, be seen, and questioned. Wendell White showed up hoping to work on the slot machines. He's 51 and was laid off from another job that employed him for three decades.

"It's hard to get that one spot. You have to be the one they're looking for. And sometimes, you don't know what they're looking for. So, you've just got to take your chances," he said.

On Monday, the company was looking specifically for security people, the slot department, and for dealers.

"Let me sign you up for a school and they will contact you," a man told Kristen Dagnenis. Dealing sounded perfect her, a stay-at-home mother of two children. Asked how the job would change her life, she laughingly replied, "It would just give me my social interaction with adults again. That's how it will change my life, in a nutshell."

No one was hired Monday as the casino, which is set to open in a few months, will be looking at applicants for quite a while before making job offers.


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