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Charlotte hotel industry now hopeful federal grants might help with COVID-19 recovery

The Save Hotel Jobs Act could provide up to $20 million to assist with payroll costs as demand for hotel staff increases.
Credit: WCNC Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hospitality had the highest unemployment of any segment of the economy as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns. That’s according to the Asian American Hotel Owner Association (AAHOA), an organization now in support of a bill that could provide some much-needed relief to hoteliers nationwide.

Over the past year, a combination of low occupancy and high unemployment hit the hotel industry especially hard.

“We had to lay off a lot of people and business dwindle down to next to nothing,” Executive Director of Charlotte Area Hotel Association Vince Chelena said.

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With the introduction of the Save Hotel Jobs Act, the plan is to provide up to $20 million to help with payroll costs to employ and re-employ hotel staff.

"It’s the first real sign of a targeted stimulus just for our industry,” President & CEO of AAHOA Cecil Staton said.

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Staton says this financial help is needed now more than ever as corporate travel continues to pick up along with growing leisure travel. An increase in demand means more hotel staff is needed.

"We’re hiring and we need to hire a lot of people,” Chelena said.

At least 10,000 hotel hires are needed in Mecklenburg County alone. The Charlotte Area Hotel Association says they hope to host upcoming job fairs and work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to recruit recent graduates ready to enter the workforce.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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