Grand Rapids' newest hotel, the luxury brand JW Marriott, opened September 21 with some 250 new employees. That number could rise to 300 over the next couple of years. So far, the hotel has hired 198 people, and is hiring more as we speak.


The hotel received over 4,000 applications from all over the world, and has conducted 2,500 interviews thus far -- 1,200 of those were in just one week.


So far, about 10 percent of the new hires are former Grand Rapids residents who are taking on new jobs so they can return home.


"There's so much written about the exodus of college students from the state," says George Aquino, general manager. "To me the most rewarding part of the whole job piece is realizing that people from West Michigan eventually come back. Our executive chef moved back from Orlando and he's been gone for about 20 years. Our director of finance moved back from Denver, another person from Scottsdale, and several from San Diego and Newport Beach."


There's also a trend of people who want to move here from Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Detroit, Aquino says. The reason they've given is that the economy is better here.


To-date the hotel has filled all of its management positions, and is looking to fill openings in accounting, human resources, hotel operations, food and beverage restaurant management, housekeeping, and banquet and event staff. Wages start at $8.50 an hour for administrative personnel and $10 an hour for banquet servers.