Happy Dog owner to lead Fund for Our Economic Future hotel initiative | Food


Sean Watterson, owner and operator of The Happy Dog at Gordon Square in Cleveland, will serve as lead consultant, hospitality talent and workplace strengthening for the Fund for Our Economic Future.

Announced Jan. 18 by The Fund for Our Economic Future, the role is financially supported by the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, the Deaconess Foundation, and the National Fund for Workplace Solutions, with additional support from Destination Cleveland and Greater Cleveland. Sports Commission. In this role, Watterson is responsible for identifying short- and long-term solutions to improve the hospitality industry’s ability to attract, retain and promote workers.

“I am thrilled to work with the Cuyahoga County hospitality business and workforce to make this industry more sustainable for everyone involved,” said Watterson, who runs The Happy Dog alongside co-owner Tony Cross. , in the press release. “I look forward to reaching out to local restaurants, hotels and venues and our counterparts across the country, through the relationships established in the development of the National Independent Venue Association, to find workable solutions to improve the environment, both for the company and for the individual workers on whom these companies depend….I look forward to applying the lessons I have learned from our incredible staff to the important work ahead of us.

Watterson’s work is directly linked to the fund’s mission to advance a fairer economy and to a recently adopted three-year strategy that seeks creative solutions to the region’s most pressing economic challenges, the statement said.

Bishara Addison, director of employment readiness for the Fund for Our Economic Future, said in the statement that businesses and workers have endured “significant pandemic-induced uncertainty.” It is because of this uncertainty that the Economic Future Fund, along with its philanthropic, civic and public partners, “recognizes the critical role that hospitality plays in our region’s economic success.”

“Sean’s work will help restaurants, event venues and other hospitality businesses, and the people they employ, navigate the uncertainty of today and build a better tomorrow,” said she continued in the statement.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said in the statement that with “terrible weather” restaurants, hotels and other hospitality players are finding help, the county is “pleased.” to provide funding to help hospitality companies develop better ways to recruit, hire, train and retain workers by bringing in an “expert consultant” like Watterson.

“COVID has hit our restaurants, bars and hotels particularly hard, so we felt it was important to step up funding to help this critical sector complement our work in partnership with the workforce sector,” he said in the statement. “I want to thank our partners at Destination Cleveland and the Fund for Our Economic Future, who see value in this effort and look forward to our ongoing work to strengthen our workforce in Cuyahoga County.”

David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, which is one of the proponents of the role, said in the statement that the organization was “delighted” to be part of the collaboration to benefit the hospitality industry.

“This community-wide collaboration and dedicated stance is critical to our efforts to not just rebuild the industry, but to build it back stronger and more sustainable than before,” he said. “Sean is a passionate member of our community with a deep understanding of the hospitality industry and the needs of its employees. We look forward to working with him and our community partners to bring about the necessary and urgent changes to ensure growth at long term in the industry.

Cathy Belk, president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation, another of the role’s proponents, said in the statement that “this collaboration between the public, civic and philanthropic sectors is an example of the unprecedented levels of alignment that I see throughout the county, including in workforce development.

“When we are so aligned, we can develop, test and scale solutions that work to address our economy’s most pressing challenges,” she said.

The Fund for Our Economic Future is a creative space for philanthropic funders and civic leaders to explore what matters and implement what works to achieve equitable economic growth, with a focus on change long-term systemic, according to the press release. In addition to Watterson’s new role, additional work is underway to support Northeast Ohio’s workforce – including a multi-part analysis titled Where Are the Workers, which examines current shortages of talents.

For more information on Watterson’s role, the fund, and Where the Workers Are, visit thefundneo.org.


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