ORLANDO-Duncan R. Dickson and his partner David Lehman have come up with a match-making service hotels, restaurants, retailers and theme parks are embracing in one of the tightest labor markets here in a decade. Dickson’s Halcyon Hospitality Recruiters recruits and refers workers to clients after matching a worker’s talents with a client’s needs. The client pays Halcyon for the service.

Halcyon relies on 30 seasoned recruiters to find line workers, not managers or executives. The demand and competition for hourly workers is so intense, many hotels, restaurants, theme parks and other tourist-catering attractions offer signing bonuses to new employees and even give their own employees bonuses for finding workers.

The demand is growing because the Orlando area’s attractions are expanding and need bodies to fill newly-created jobs. For example, Walt Disney World has grown from a 30,000-worker base of full-time and part-time employees five years ago to 55,900 today. Disney is the area’s largest employer.

The park’s rival, Universal Orlando, has 6,200 full-time workers and 5,800 part-timers for a total staff of 12,000. Marriott International Inc has 5,134 full-time workers and 860 part-timers for a total 5,994 employees. McDonald’s Corp. carries a payroll of 5,600 workers here. Darden Restaurants Inc., the country’s largest privately-held seafood dining chain, has 5,500 employees. Publix Super Markets Inc. has 5,906 full-time workers and 9,722 part-timers for a total 15,628.

The numbers come from the individual companies with operations in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Volusia and Brevard counties which make up the Central Florida region. Dickson was Disney’s casting director from 1988 to 1995. He and Lehman are principals in Hospitality & Event Staff Inc.

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