Atlantic City casino workers have had a rough go of it over the past year.
The closure of four casinos in the city caused the loss of around 4,000 jobs in the gaming industry, and the secondary impact on the local economy caused dozens of other businesses to close as well.
But now, workers who were affected by the casino closures will be getting at least a little help from the federal government.
The US Department of Labor has authorized a National Emergency Grant of around $29.4 million which will be used to provide reemployment services to casino workers who lost their jobs.
The grant, awarded to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and will be operated by the Atlantic Cape May Workforce Investment Board and the Cumberland Salem Workforce Investment Board.
“The Atlantic City economy was dealt a staggering blow with the closure of these casinos,” said current U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. “For the thousands of workers who lost their jobs as a result, we are committed to providing the resources, support and training they need to get back on their feet.”
New Jersey is No Stranger to Labor Department Grants
Of the grant amount, more than $13.1 million will be released immediately. The additional funding will become available if New Jersey continues to demonstrate a need for the resources.
The National Emergency Grant comes out of the Secretary of Labor’s discretionary fund, and is awarded to states based on specific guidelines.
This is at least the third time in recent years that New Jersey has received such a grant. In 2010, a similar grant was provided to help pharmaceutical industry workers, while another was granted in 2013 to help with the recovery after Hurricane Sandy.
“This is another important step towards Atlantic City’s comeback,” said Senator Coy Booker (D-New Jersey) in a statement. “This National Emergency Grant is focused on the workers and will be utilized to increase occupational skills and to get those impacted by the casino closing back to work. This has been a unified effort, working with my colleagues in Congress to secure and expedite the assistance to the thousands of New Jersey families in need and to get Atlantic City on strong footing again.”
Grant Requested by New Jersey Politicians
The grant comes after most of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, including both Senators and nine of the state’s 12 Representatives, signed off on a December letter to Perez asking for the assistance.
According to Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, the funds should be the first of many factors that will help his city heal in 2015.
“We are thrilled,” Guardian said. “I am very lucky to have two senators who are former mayors and understand the importance of jobs and Congressman LoBiondo who has made jobs here important for the last 20 years.”
Atlantic City’s casino industry has been reeling since the 2008 recession, and has failed to recover in the face of increased competition in the region, particularly from Pennsylvania casinos.
Last year, four casinos closed in the city: the Atlantic Club, the Revel Casino Hotel, the Trump Plaza, and the Showboat all shut their doors in 2014.
However, some of those venues may be reopened in the near future, perhaps reinvigorating the local job market.
The Showboat is expected to become student housing for Richard Stockton College, while the Revel’s new owner, Glenn Straub, says that he wants to build a water park on some of that property.