Inmates participate in hospitality training program


Several community organizations in Hamilton County and governmental partners have launched a hospitality training program in the Hamilton County Jail.

The 10-week program provides participants with valuable communication, problem-solving and customer service skills to pursue careers in the hospitality industry, officials said. The training was made possible through funding from Hamilton County’s ARPA Committee and is operated through a partnership between the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton County Tourism and Invest Hamilton County.

Two cohorts of men have passed their certifications with a 100 percent pass rate, while a women’s cohort began Feb. 6, officials said.

Heirbrandt Headshot

  “We know that giving individuals a second chance is the right thing to do,” Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said. “Programs like this that attach that second chance to economic opportunity are another example of forward-thinking innovation and collaboration in our community.”

Hamilton County’s hospitality industry was among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a labor shortage, officials said. The ARPA grant is meant to support the industry’s rebound, according to the county.

“(We) knew workforce shortages were a barrier for our local lodging partners so the support provided by the Hamilton County Council and Commissioners and the talents of Invest enabled us to take action,” said Brenda Myers, president and CEO of Hamilton County Tourism. “Our local hospitality industry includes quality workplaces that care about their people and the community. In meeting the men in this program, I believe many of them will find great success in this industry.”

Participants in the program receive nationally recognized Guest Service Gold and most of the Certified Front Desk Representative credential from the American Hotel and Lodging Education Institute.

“We are exploring the skill and credential needs of our ecosystem on a consistent basis,” said Mike Thibideau, president and CEO of Invest Hamilton County. “Customer service and the other skills attached to this program prepare individuals for multiple pathways of opportunity.”

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Dept. and its jail, through its TOWER and Launch HOPE programs, provide therapeutic environments focused on reducing recidivism and helping individuals find long-term recovery for substance use and mental health struggles.

“We are proud of the program and the hard work that the program participants put in, not only to better themselves but to lay the foundation for a good future,” said Hamilton County Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush.

Any employers interested in participating are asked to contact Thibideau by emailing [email protected].