The Imperial Palace was the first casino to open in south Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Now, nearly a month later, the company has hired hundreds of new employees they call IP associates. Casino leaders say business is going strong, but there's still more work to be done.
Troy Ludgood had worked in the Mississippi Gulf Coast casino industry for more than eleven years when Katrina wiped out his job. Now, nearly five months after the storm, he's happy to be back at work at the IP.
"It feels good," he said. "It's back to normal. I like that. It makes me feel like I can get on with my life and get everything straight."
Despite the difficulties he faced after Katrina, Ludgood decided to ride out the first few months after the storm until a local casino job became available.
"I was going to try to find something local because I didn't want to move away from Mississippi, because I love Mississippi. It's my home," Ludgood said.
Maxine Mullins worked at the IP before the storm. She returned to her job as a security guard when the casino reopened.
"It's great. It's just wonderful to be back and be able to see the people who normally had been here. We had regulars who came here all the time, and it's like family. It's really like family," Mullins said.
More than 2,000 associates are now working at the IP and they're looking to hire more.
"We have many applicants coming in. We interview anywhere from 50 to 75 to 100 people a day, coming in. Applicants come in to get an interview. They could leave with a job," said Kelli McCarthy, the Vice President of Human Resources at the IP.
As for Ludgood and Mullins, they're back in South Mississippi's casino workforce and happy to see the regular casino patrons they missed while the casinos were closed.
The IP now has 800 more employees than it did before the storm and is still seeking employees for various positions. You can apply by going to the Human Resources Department on the second floor of the casino Monday through Friday.