American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Katherine Lugar spoke at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss the importance of hotels to city economies.

HOTELS IN U.S. cities create jobs that strengthen every local community, and for that reason city governments should support the hospitality industry in their areas. That was the message American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Katherine Lugar brought to the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C., last week.

Hotels provide 8 million jobs nationwide and generate $1.1 trillion in economic activity and $170 billion in tax revenue, according to AHLA. “From small and independent hotels to the global hotel brands to real estate owners, our industry is a major economic driver in communities across the United States. And we do that in partnership with each of you,” Lugar told the mayors. “Every time a new hotel is built in your cities, your community reaps the benefits of spending and jobs that go well beyond our properties.”

Lugar went on to discuss the growing role of apprenticeship programs in the hotel industry, which she said are fairly new. AHLA offers an apprenticeship program in partnership with the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation that has awarded more than $20.4 million in contracts to 14 national companies and organizations.

“It’s important for people to know that a four-year college degree is not the only path to upward mobility and management-track jobs,” said Lugar. “And for hotels, it provides a wonderful program to build and develop the supply of talent for the future.”

Finally, Lugar told USCM members about a pilot program AHLA and its educational foundation recently launched with nonprofit group Grads of Life to help 6 million people between 16 and 24 years old find jobs in the hotel industry. The “Opportunity Youth” program provides $500,000 in grants to community-based organizations that recruit young people who recently finished school and are looking for jobs in high-demand markets like Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

The U.S. Labor Department also participates in the Opportunity Youth program. “This grant is another step in our continued commitment to creating opportunity and economic mobility by investing in our workforce,” Lugar said when the program was announced in October.