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Aug. 29 citywide hospitality job fair aims to meet the need among businesses to fill open positions


The City’s Director of Economic Development Jodie Nazaka, left, and business liaison Erik Lesniak, are organizing a citywide hospitality job fair on Aug. 29 at the Doubletree Hilton. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

This free event will allow your business to interview and hire prospective applicants for critical positions within your company. Tables and chairs will be provided on behalf of the DoubleTree by Hilton. Please RSVP to Erik Lesniak at elesniak@manchesternh.gov no later than 3 p.m. on August 22 if you would like to attend and participate in the Job Fair.

MANCHESTER, NH – A citywide job fair focused on the hospitality industry will be held Aug. 29 at the DoubleTree Hotel, a way to bring together local employers and job-seekers for on-the-spot interviews and immediate hires. 

The fair, organized by the city’s Office of Economic Development, is the result of talking to business owners and hearing their pain.

“We’re focusing on restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels – they’re hurting on their end and can’t fulfill the services they offer for lack of employees,” says Erik Lesniak, business liaison for the newly restructured economic development department. In doing research on some possible city-driven solutions, Lesniak said they came across the job fair idea which has proven successful in some other cities and towns.

Lesniak said focusing on hospitality and boosting a depleted workforce is what’s needed right now, and it’s not only restaurants and cafes, but also the airport, the SNHU Arena, Fisher Cats Stadium, McIntyre Ski Area – every place that draws visitors to the downtown, including the city’s Department of Public Works, which tends to parks and recreational sites.

Since the office of economic development reorganized in March, Lesniak has been making the rounds to form direct connections with business owners. First and foremost, he’s been listening. 

“It’s what we’re here to do and making these connections is what’s going to make our city economically viable in the future,” Lesniak said. 

The door is always open at the Economic Development Office at City Hall where Jodie Nazaka and Erik Lesniak are working to make connections and build a strong business community. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Although the city is not yet in full recovery mode after COVID shut-downs, some businesses report an uptick in customers – even though a majority of office workers who once filled downtown offices continue to work remotely, which has hurt the lunch-time rush. 

“Businesses may not be fully back but business is coming back – the trend is positive, more businesses are opening up than we had a year ago and as that grows, so will opportunities to get people back,” Lesniak said.  

“It will be a slow fix, but what I love about our downtown is that we’re starting to see everyone come together to market their businesses,” Lesniak said, citing initiatives including Second Saturday, and efforts within the art community, including the newly completed mural at Arms Park, which they expect to be a draw and a focal point to build on.

Department Director Jodie Nazaka says with several large residential complexes in the pipeline representing hundreds of potential regulars in need of food, services and shopping, now is the time to ramp up.

“Covid allowed for a lot of changes in the workforce, and unfortunately not only did we lose people to Covid, we lost people who retired early and took the opportunity to go back to school or do some online classes and follow their passion,” Nazaka said. “But there are also many opportunities to grow and build careers within the hospitality industry,” including city jobs that offer pensions and advancement.

As the calendar fills with events designed to bring visitors into the city – Art Builds Community Mural festival Aug. 11-22, Manchester International Film Festival Aug. 12-14, the We Are One Fest on Aug. 19, the annual Cruisin Downtown Car show Sept. 3, and a Citywide Arts Festival Sept. 12-18 – all eyes will be on Manchester. Filling hospitality jobs now will go a long way toward keeping restaurants full and visitors happy.

“People from outside the city and state and – even throughout the country –  look at us for our unique and diverse restaurant scene, and events. And while we’re not yet there in the rankings for art, we’re building on that,” Lesniak said. As we continue to grow, events will be imperative.”

As the need and demand for restaurants and shopping increases with the anticipated residential population, the economic development department wants to be the go-to resource that helps the city grow. 

It will take time – and trust, says Lesniak. 

“With this office reopening, the more we do what we do helps to create that trust,” Lesniak says. “Our office is leading the charge for change and we want to find more ways to engage people in that process,” Lesniak says.

Manchester Rising is an ongoing series of stories focused on the people, organizations and entities elevating and engaging our community. Send story/subject suggestions to publisher@manchesterinklink.com for consideration. You can support this story series with your tax-deductible contribution by clicking here.


About this Contributor

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!

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