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Great Wolf gearing up to hire 500
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Great Wolf is starting to build its “pack” to staff the 500-room indoor water park resort expected to open mid-2020 in Manteca.

The company has started recruiting for positions they need in place by the end of January — director of sales and catering as well as a receiver.

Altogether Great Wolf plans on hiring 500 people — 250 full-time and 250 part-time jobs. At full staffing Great Wolf will be Manteca’s second largest private sector employer behind Doctors Hospital of Manteca. Manteca Unified is the largest overall employer with 2,242 jobs.

The bulk of the jobs from housekeeping and hospitality services to water park attendants will be offered at a job fair in the coming months. The date and location for such a job fair has not been announced. Great Wolf has made it clear, though, the job fair will take place in Manteca in a bid to attract as many qualified local applicants as possible.

“We expect there will be a great deal of movement,” City of Manteca Economic Development Specialist Don Smail said last month.

That means Great Wolf is likely to hire a share of its work force that has an established work history in the hotel business. It is likely to create a situation where existing hotels and restaurants will be scrambling to fill jobs from employees that get hired away by Great Wolf.

Manteca purposely went after a large indoor waterpark resort to broaden the employment base in the city. Historically such businesses weather economic downturns fairly well as people who would normally take extended vacations opt for more so-called staycations within a 100-mile radius. Also, unlike most brick and mortar retail, hospitality jobs won’t be migrating to e-commerce.

The hospitality sector — restaurants and entertainment style jobs — is positioned to keep growing in Manteca. There are two more hotels moving forward, the four-story and 78-room Tru by Hilton on Northwoods Avenue and the four-story and 101-room Staybridge Suites on Daniels Street at Fishback Road. There are also more restaurants opening such as Chick-fil-A on East Yosemite Avenue.

The biggest boon to Manteca’s job market arguably could be the 250 part-time jobs.

While some pooh-pooh the importance of part-time employment, Manteca Unified leaders see them as the first step on employment or career paths.

Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Clark Burke  said the district has partnered with the Manteca Adult School via WorkNet to maximize opportunities with Great Wolf for graduating students. Burke said the district’s culinary programs including Be.Tech Academy look forward to establishing a relationship with Great Wolf as well.

District educators have noted for some part-time jobs such as the 250 Great Wolf will offer provide a way to go to college without going into debt.  For others they can be the first step toward full-time and coveted head-of-household jobs in the growing leisure, hospitality, and food service industries. And for others whose goal is employment in other fields, it provides a way to hone soft skills — being prompt, working as a team, effective interacting with customers, and a host of other attributes that strengthens their employability.

If such a relationship does develop, it would fit into the Manteca Unified strategy of preparing students for the changing workforce whether it is in its own backyard or the job-rich Bay Area. Just 20 percent of the district’s high school graduates — typical for most California public high schools — go directly to four-year colleges. At the same time, Manteca Unified graduates just like their peers elsewhere in the state that go to community colleges, have a high number that don’t complete two-year programs primarily because they aren’t focused on a specific path. That reality is the driving force behind a concerted effort to make Manteca Unified graduates employable when they graduate as well as help them plug into vocational education paths at Delta College and elsewhere.

Manteca Unified has already developed training programs that are helping make those that complete them job ready for the rapidly growing distribution and logistics sector jobs. Amazon has developed several certification programs with MUSD to develop a pool of qualified employees.

Significant job creation was a threshold Manteca legally had to meet before they could invest $7.5 million plus in extending Daniels Street to McKinley Avenue to provide access and infrastructure to Great Wolf.

In a study conducted in late 2017, it was determined Manteca through the investment of $7.5 million would help create 375 fulltime equivalent (FTE) jobs.

That reflects 250 fulltime and 250 part-time jobs when the $180 million resort opens on 30 acres purchased from the city directly east of Costco backing up to the 120 Bypass and fronting the future extension of Daniels Street.

That comes to $20,000 per FTE job or 1.75 FTE per $35,000 the city invests.

Why that matters is the city under state law cannot invest local funds in such projects unless at least one FTE is created per $35,000 invested. Based on the FTE jobs Great Wolf is creating, Manteca could not legally invest  more than $13,125,000 to make the project work.

The authorization for cities to use their funds in a manner that promotes economic opportunity was approved by the state in the aftermath of the loss of redevelopment funds.  Section 5200 of the California Government Code states the intent is to “promote economic development on a local level so that communities can enact local strategies to increase jobs, create economic opportunity, and generate tax revenue for all levels of government.”

A subsection states “development agreements, loan agreements, sale agreements, lease agreements, or other agreements that create, retain, or expand new jobs, in which the legislative body finds that the agreement will create or retain at least one full-time equivalent, permanent job for every thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000) of city, county, or city and county investment in the project after full capacity and implementation.”


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