Harrah's Employee Recovery Fund Distributes $2.1 Million
Continuing efforts to provide assistance to those hardest hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Harrah's Employee Recovery Fund (HERF) recently issued $2.1 million in assistance to nearly 2,800 current and former employees of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. The distribution is the second made by the HERF, which previously paid $4.5 million to 3,600 employees. Any non-management employee impacted by the two hurricanes was eligible to apply for financial assistance from HERF; decisions were made according to need. "The remarkable generosity shown by our employees, customers, business partners and friends in the community was truly inspiring," said Gary Loveman, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Harrah's Entertainment. "Their donations and efforts have helped thousands of our colleagues start down the path of recovery. We will not soon forget the kindness so many showed in our employees' hour of need."
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the Harrah's Foundation seeded the HERF with a contribution of $1 million, which was later raised to $1.5 million. Additional contributions were made by thousands of donors in the months that followed, capped by $2.1 million raised in a February 2006 benefit concert by Celine Dion, Elton John and Jerry Seinfeld at Caesars Palace.
The fund was just one facet of the company's comprehensive relief efforts for the nearly 9,000 employees who worked at four Harrah's properties closed by the storms. The company guaranteed employees' pay for 90 days, continued health insurance benefits, opened employee information and recovery centers in Mississippi and Louisiana, gave affected employees first preference for available jobs at the company's other casinos across the United States, and provided nearly $1.5 million in assistance to employees relocating to other properties.
Nine months after Katrina, Harrah's efforts to return to the Gulf Coast are well underway. In February Harrah's New Orleans re-opened its doors, and later this summer the company will open the first phase of a completely refurbished Grand Casino Biloxi. Harrah's expects to announce plans for the development of a destination resort in Biloxi later this summer.
"We are committed to the Gulf Coast, and look forward to expanding our presence in New Orleans and Biloxi in the years to come," Loveman said.