Thousands turn out for Riverwalk job fair - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Thousands turn out for Riverwalk job fair

Thousands wait in line to register for job fair held Monday for the Riverwalk outlet mall. Thousands wait in line to register for job fair held Monday for the Riverwalk outlet mall.

Thousands filled Hall A of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, and it wasn't because they wanted to see exhibits. They were seeking one of the 1,600 jobs available at the soon-to-open revamped Riverwalk retail establishment at the foot of Canal Street.

The job fair is part of the growth spurt the city is experiencing in terms of new employment opportunities.

"I put in about 10 applications," said Tavis Clark as he left the job fair.

Dozens of retailers took applications for the stores that will open as part of "The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk," as the mall will now be called. The upscale outlet stores include Coach, Nieman Marcus, U.S. Polo Association and Tommy Bahama.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, representatives of some of the stores and executives with Riverwalk owner Howard Hughes Corporation held a morning press conference on the floor of the job fair inside the convention center's Great Hall.

"It's incredible. The fact that the jobs are available is amazing," Landrieu said.

"We think that there's a dramatic demand for new retail here," Mark Bulmash, Senior Vice President of Development with the Howard Hughes Corporation.

He said convincing big name retailers to sign on took some work, however.

"It took us a long time to convince national retailers to take a look at the city," said Bulmash.

UNO economist Ivan Miestchovich said the millions in federal dollars that flowed into the area for post-Katrina rebuilding has encouraged investors to not only look seriously at the city, but to follow through with investments.

"And wanting to be part of something new, the kind of entrepreneur spirit that exists here," said Miestchovich.

The applicants said they were thrilled with the investment the city has been afforded of late.

"It was good to see a lot of positive people turn out and want to offer jobs, and this will be a good look for the city and hoping that we can get a job," said applicant Kristen Johnson.

"I'm hoping. I feel kind of lucky - something should come through," said Clark as he was leaving the job fair.

"Over the years there's been an emotional connection to the property by locals, but there's also a phenomenal opportunity to tap the tourist traffic that's all around us," said Bulmash.

The convention center event was not the only employment opportunity event on Monday's schedule.

An information session is set for Monday at 6 p.m. at the Apostolic Outreach Church on Lake Forest Boulevard to provide the public with details about the hiring process for the hospital that is slated to open in June.

"We're going to be advertising over 120 jobs in all realms of healthcare, clinical, nursing positions, ancillary housekeeping positions, accounting," said hospital CEO Mario Garner.

Last week, a hiring center opened for the new Walmart in New Orleans East, where 300 people will be hired.

"Investors very often have somewhat of a herd mentality," Miestchovich said. "They'll look to see what others do before they make their leap." 

"You can see the virtual cycle of success beginning really to take deep, deep, root, and thousands of jobs being created, really, all over the city," Landrieu said.

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