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Now Hiring: Businesses struggle to find help, grapple with labor shortages

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 10:36 PM EDT
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FRANKENMUTH, Mich. (WJRT) - Now hiring.

Signs posted across Mid-Michigan ask for help, but increasingly that help doesn’t come.

The consequences of COVID-era staffing shortages in Frankenmuth could have detrimental effects moving forward.

“We have lots of hiring signs,” said Jamie Furbush, president and CEO of the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a challenging time I think for businesses.”

At least one help wanted sign is posted in the window of a business in downtown Frankenmuth, particularly hard hit by the struggle to find employees.

“This time of year, traditionally, our businesses would start ramping up for the summer season,” Furbush said. “Some of our restaurants that would start hiring this time of year normally see a good flow of applications are seeing none whatsoever or very, very few.”

Now a familiar hurdle nationwide as the pandemic stretches into its second year. Furbush’s job is to pinpoint practical solutions.

“There’s a lot of concern about how to keep their doors open,” she said. “It’s not just our tourism industry job. There’s jobs in many, many different industry sectors.”

Long-time Main Street staple Tiffany’s said staff shortages had forced them to cut their hours. They’ll now be closed Monday and Tuesday simply because they don’t have the people in place to fill those shifts.

Even the landmark megastore Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland isn’t immune to staffing issues.

“Sitting on this side of the desk, it’s scary,” Bronner’s Personnel Manager Crissy Dutcher said. “It really is.”

Bronner’s watched its neighbors’ ongoing struggles with no small measure of concern.

“It’s not even that they’re not getting the right applicants, they’re not getting any applicants. So, we are very nervous going into the season,” Dutcher said. “It’s nerve racking watching it from this end. But for us, we’re still in the slow season. We’re going to hope that things maybe turn around a little bit.”

As the lack of labor makes its presence known, Furbush said a special meeting planned for Friday promises to explore options and attempt to minimize the impact.

“It’s just a small meeting of the minds to figure out how we can help our local businesses tackle this issue,” she said. “Because certainly, we can’t make people come in and apply.”

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