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Marriott Downtown Syracuse and SUNY EOC to host job fair, training aimed at inner city residents

A $57 million renovation will turn the former Hotel Syracuse into the new Marriott Downtown Syracuse,  scheduled to open in the spring of 2016. Now, the hotel is partnering with a branch of SUNY to help train inner city residents for some of the available jobs.

Ed Riley, the owner of the hotel, says they will be targeting residents that live on the near Westside, near Northside and near Southside of the city for 200 jobs ranging from housekeeping to management positions.

Tim Penix is the vice president of the SUNY Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center and says they will provide training for customer service with a hospitality focus in their partnership with Crescent, the management company for Marriott. 

“In many cases, the EOC is designed to provide employment, but we’re really talking about individuals getting on career ladders so they’ll be able to sustain their families and have a positive impact in our community,” Penix said.

People were encouraged to register online for interview and training spots at the September 16 job fair at the Oncenter. But so many people registered, more than 800, that the registration system automatically closed. Additional spots have since been added and registration is back online.

Some activists have concerns about whether those with disabilities or criminal histories will be able to land some of the jobs. Reilly says some positions can be filled with people who have criminal background histories but some cannot.

Linda Hall owns a small employment placement company for people with disabilities and is one of the activists encouraging the hotel to be inclusive in its hiring process.  

“We’re looking to them to remove these barriers or at least make a gateway so we can get some part of this population back to work,” Hall said.

Riley says he is not aware of any specific goals to hire people with disabilities but he is not opposed to it.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.