Employers that previously hired foreign workers look to locals

Published: May. 21, 2020 at 4:03 PM EDT
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As the streets begin to awaken in Lake Placid after two months of slumber, open flags dance proudly in the wind.

"It is such a relief to return to something that sort of feels a little bit more like normal," said David Coryer of Coryer Staffing.

What is normal during summer and fall for the Mirror Lake Inn is an additional 30 to 40 J1 visa seasonal workers on staff, mainly from Europe and South America. But that's not the case this year.

"We really didn't feel in good conscience, with so much unemployment in America, that it would be appropriate to shut out any jobs for local people," said Edwin Weibrecht of the Mirror Lake Inn.

The J1 visa is an educational and cultural exchange between the U.S. and countries overseas. The Trump administration temporarily put the program on hold because of the coronavirus. But it's back up now with new rules in place. International workers must provide documentation proving they are in good health.

"We were really pleased with the J1s. They were good workers and nice people," Weibrecht said.

"The J1 programs were really utilized and expanded because couldn't find people to fill the jobs within the organization," Coryer said.

Coryer Staffing says local college students are the perfect fit to fill those jobs.

"They are talented, they are hard-working, they are driven, they have a good work ethic," he said.

Back at the inn, Weibrecht says locals are applying. They are still hoping to fill all 30-40 jobs with locals from anywhere of any age.

They want to make sure when they open, they can offer everything including their fine dining and spa. So for now, it's a waiting game.

"As soon as the government tells us we can do so legally," Weibrecht said, "we will move to a soft opening and then a hard opening."

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