ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Saturday’s downtown Christmas tree lighting in Alpharetta launched what businesses have come to rely on as their cornucopia in consumer spending through the end of the year.
Local retailers especially are bulking up on staff to handle increased shoppers.
But with a robust economy, Alpharetta merchants face a complication in seasonal hiring, according to John Ray, president of the Alpharetta Business Association.
“From everything I see, the demand for labor is strong,” Ray said. “There are some retailers doing better than others. But from a small business point of view, business is strong and they’re doing everything they can to get the labor to take care of the business.”
But this kind of labor is getting harder to come by, Ray said. And one big reason is the cost of housing.
Much of the seasonal labor comes from outside the city because many potential employees cannot afford to live in Alpharetta.
“So, you’ve got to take that into account in terms of paying people,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition for people who are coming into this market. That’s an issue right there.”
Ray said if those interested in seasonal work get offers closer to home and can forgo the costs for the commute to Alpharetta, they’re going to look strongly at that.
“That’s creating some issues for employers in this market,” he said. “You’ve got restaurants opening, you’ve got stores in Avalon opening. You get more competition for the same individual who’s commuting into Alpharetta.”
The holiday season aside, Avalon garnered a lot of attention this weekend when Marriott held a two-day job fair for some 160 positions at its new Autograph Collection hotel scheduled to open next month.
The fair drew more than 170 people in its first three hours Friday, according to hotel General Manager Thomas Lind.
While most of those applicants registered online for appointments, about 50 or so were walk-ins, he said.
This follows another session held the week before when the hotel took applications for some 60 positions at the South City Kitchen.
The most recent job fair drew interest from throughout the area, Lind said. This included key applicants from Atlanta’s prestigious Four Seasons, St. Regis and Mandarin Oriental hotels.
“I’m so encouraged so far in the people we’ve been able to attract,” Lind said. “I’ve had about 15 people so far this morning and they said ‘I’m at the Four Seasons now or I’m at the St. Regis.’
“It’s that caliber, people who have tenured experience. They are here for personal reasons. They love Alpharetta. They love Avalon. They want to get away from the congestion and traffic of Buckhead.”
Lind attributes the interest to the unique quality of the new hotel and the excitement that comes with being a part of Avalon.
When it opens next month the six-story, 330-room hotel will feature guestrooms, spacious suites, a fitness center, several dining options and a pool.
In conjunction with the Alpharetta Development Authority, it will also operate an adjoining 60,000-square-foot conference center to accommodate trade shows, conventions or special events.
The hotel has planned a ribbon cutting Jan. 16 which will include a special luncheon and tour of the facility.
On Jan. 20, it will host a grand opening which includes a charity gala and a silent auction.
Proceeds from the event will benefit North Fulton Community Charities.