By Kalea Hall
Herman Stein said he is fortunate to have the chance to work for Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course.
He’s humbled to know he is responsible for the facilities at the 190-acre site off state Route 46.
Like Stein, Mike Kolenich also feels fortunate to be one of approximately 30 security officers hired for the racino.
Both are Valley residents who saw the racino as an opportunity to start a new career and as a place that brought hope and a new employment opportunity to the Valley.
The new hires will be ready for the Sept. 17 grand opening of the racino.
“It’s actually a job where I cannot wait to get up and shut my alarm off,” Kolenich said. “It’s nothing but positive.”
Kolenich, 29, of Austintown, got a job in manufacturing right after high school and worked there for eight and a half years. The job came with good pay and decent benefits, and then last year Kolenich heard about the racino.
“It definitely brought a whole new atmosphere,” he said. “It was a good change for my life and my family’s life.”
He went to the first job fair in June where thousands showed up, and two days later he got the call to come in for a one-on-one interview with General Manager Mike Galle.
Now, he has been on the job since July.
“It’s just a different atmosphere for Austintown,” he said. “It’s something that is going to stay here.”
After 35 years with Morgan’s Foods overseeing operations in six states, Stein thought it was time for a change. The 56-year-old Vienna resident frequently would see the racino site and wonder what was going on there.
He soon found out about the future for the site and applied. By February he had his first interview.
“I was shocked when I got the phone call,” he said. “I went through a four [stage] interview process.”
His job will consist of maintaining the building at the racino site. He also will oversee some of the facilities at the racetrack.
“It is just a total different environment from what I used to do,” he said.
Approximately 80 percent of the 400-person workforce have been hired so far — 90 percent of those workers are local.
Those positions are in food and beverage, video lottery terminals, finance and accounting, environmental services, surveillance, racing, count room and more; 65 percent of those jobs are full time with benefits. Many of the jobs are tip-earning positions, so, combining salaries and tips, employees could make between $30,000 and $40,000 for entry-level positions.
Queeta Hewitt, director of human resources for Hollywood Gaming, said so far an estimated 9,000 people have applied for employment at the racino.
“We are extremely happy about the process,” Hewitt said. “Things have flowed quite smoothly. We have had a good number of qualified applicants and applicants we felt were a good fit.”
While some departments are fully staffed, the hiring will continue at the racino. Cooks, bartenders and servers are still in need.
Go to hollywoodmahoningvalley.com/careers if interested.