County Commissioner Eileen Higgins sponsored the legislation that will also provide financial relief to impacted workers
Miami, Aug. 4, 2020- Miami Dade College (MDC) will receive $3 million in county funds allocated from the federal CARES Act, to provide professional training and administer financial relief to hotel employees who have been furloughed or lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners approved The Hotel Worker Relief Grant Program, which was sponsored by Commissioner Eileen Higgins.
“We have the capacity to administer grants and activate this comprehensive curriculum at the same time,” said Dr. Lenore Rodicio, MDC Executive Vice President and Provost. “This program is a model of collaboration, bringing together higher education, local government, and the tourism industry to provide real support to those in need. Miami Dade College prides itself on changing lives through accessible, high-quality experiences, and that’s what we intend to provide for these individuals in need.”
Commissioner Higgins worked with Miami Dade College, which will administer the grant and training program, as well as the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association (GMBHA) in the development of the program. The Hotel Worker Relief Grant Program will provide financial compensation of $1,000 to up to 2,500 eligible employees who successfully complete a hotel training workshop. The training workshop will include a curriculum for the professional development of hotel workers, including employment skills training, opportunities for advancement in the hotel industry, and exposure to other career paths.
“Not only have these employees lost income, health care coverage, and all sense of financial stability, but their professional growth has completely come to a standstill.” said Commissioner Higgins. “Working with the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and Miami-Dade College, we came up with a program that helps our hotel workers catch up on their bills or pay for health insurance while also exposing them to a range of opportunities, both inside and outside the hospitality industry, and a brighter future.”
The hotel industry is one of the leading employment sectors and a vital contributor to the County’s economy, with employment in the travel and hospitality sector reaching 147,000 jobs in 2019 and creating an estimated $17 billion in economic impact, according to the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. This innovative program will tap into the relationships and expertise of the GMBHA, and can connect with a wide range of employees impacted by the pandemic.
“It’s been devastating for our hotels to have to let employees go,” said Wendy Kallergis, President and CEO of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association. “This program is just the first step in making it right. I’m appreciative of the County Commission for taking a step forward in supporting the people who make Miami’s phenomenal tourism industry what it is.”
Recently, MDC was also tasked by the County to provide critical pandemic reopening training for area hotels to ensure the proper steps and protocols to keep guests and employees safe.