A collaboration between the city of Chicago and Cook County is giving some extra attention to Mariano's as the grocery chain tries to find hundreds more people to work at its stores.
The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership said Friday that it is expanding its relationship with Mariano's as the chain continues to grow.
"They've got a pretty heavy human resources need, and the partnership has worked very closely with them," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Mariano's, the chain started by grocery executives led by former Dominick's CEO Bob Mariano, boosted its expansion plans late last year when it bought 11 former Dominick's locations. In total, the company is on track to open 16 locations this year. Mariano's is a unit of Milwaukee-based Roundy's Inc., where Mariano is now chairman and CEO.
The partnership consolidated city and county resources in July 2012 to provide free services to job seekers and businesses. It is among the largest not-for-profit public workforce agencies in the country, administering more than $50 million in federal, public and private funds to 49 agencies. The partnership said that it had helped place more than 17,000 people across all of its programs through the end of March.
The partnership is now a designated "hiring partner" for Mariano's stores in Chicago and neighboring suburbs. The announcement comes soon after Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office announced in late April that Mariano's has committed to open stores on the city's South Side over the next five years.
Though the company is getting help from the partnership, it still determines whom to hire. It has been hiring rapidly this year as it continues to open stores. Its newest store, in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, is set to open May 6 with 475 employees.
Mariano's pegged the number of people it has hired through its work with the partnership at around 250.
That makes it the partnership's largest hiring effort to date by far for a single business. Previously, its largest effort was more than 100 placements with the CTA.
Mariano's said it has hired 8,500 people so far this year and is on its way to hiring 10,000 people in 2014.
The partnership has had similar relationships with other retailers, including Pete's Fresh Market and CVS, but not near the size and scale of the workforce Mariano's is trying to hire, it said.
Mariano's has been building relationships with City Colleges and Chicago Public Schools as another way to find job candidates with the right food service and hospitality skills, Bob Mariano said last month. At that time, he called Emanuel "instrumental" in helping Mariano's access the right people to work with on those efforts.
Emanuel said that he and Mariano have met three or four times in his office over the last 18 months to discuss the chain's expansion plans and job needs.
"These are huge economic engines. They're good-paying jobs," Emanuel said.