The Clock Is Ticking


Mike Mathis, president of MGM Springfield, was talking about the company’s recently held ‘career launch.’ Conducted at the MassMutual Center, the event was staged to introduce attendees to possible careers at the company’s casino and, more importantly, how to become qualified to earn one.

While there was a decent crowd, Mathis said the company had to work hard with a number of workforce-development-related agencies to make sure the seats were full. The perception, or misperception, as the case may be, said Mathis, is that two years out (the planned opening for the casino is September 2018) is too far down the road to get serious about jobs now.

That’s a misperception, he said, because that time will go by quickly, and many individuals will need specialized training if they are to be wearing an MGM nametag on opening night. Getting ready will take some time and effort.

In many ways, the same can be said for the region and its business community. And that’s why two years out is certainly not too early to start thinking about all that the casino means — and moving accordingly.

For job seekers, as Mathis noted, that means determining what skills would be needed for a given position, finding out where and how to acquire those skills, and getting the training needed. That might take several months to a year or more.

For companies looking to do business with MGM — and the corporation is obligated to buy some products and services from the 413 area code — that means navigating a fairly complex course that will also take time. Some are already deciding for themselves that becoming an MGM vendor will be too difficult and too much work. That’s probably not the proper attitude. There are opportunities here, and companies should at least explore how to take advantage of them.

For companies that stand to benefit in some way from MGM and its 3,000 employees — and there are myriad businesses that fall in that category, from Realtors to tuxedo-shop owners to caterers to private golf clubs looking for members — the time is now to establish relationships, make their presence known, and position themselves to take full advantage of the opportunities that may await. Meanwhile, for businesses that may be adversely impacted by the casino — and there are many within the broad hospitality realm that certainly fall into this category — it’s time to be thinking about and undertaking a response.

It might come in the form of upgrades and renovations to become more competitive with the shiny casino in the South End. It might also come in the form of new products and services, and it could come in the form of entirely new business ventures aimed at mitigating that aforementioned impact on the bottom line.

In any case, the clock is ticking, and awareness of this reality is a must. In some cases, if not many of them, waiting for the South End skyline to make more dramatic changes will mean waiting too long.

Twenty-three months seems like a very long time, and for some businesses, it is. But for most, it’s not long at all, and those days, weeks, and months will go by very quickly.

That’s why the old saying, “those who fail to plan should plan to fail,” is certainly worth remembering in this case.

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