Worker shortage impacting industries around Iowa’s Great Lakes

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ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa (KCAU) — Many businesses around Lake Okoboji are preparing for the summer festivities. For some, making sure the seasonal job positions get filled has been a challenge.

A nationwide worker shortage is also putting the squeeze on the Iowa Great Lakes hospitality industry. The worker shortage in Okoboji ties to what’s happening in other counties.

Paul Plumb is the marketing director of Arnolds Park Amusement Park. He said the pandemic has impacted employees he usually gets from outside the U.S.

“One of the things we do is we do use a J-1 Visa program for college aged students and with the pandemic, some of those embassy’s have not been opened, and that process was slowed down just a little bit. So we still have those folks trickling in now where the embassy’s are opening,” said Plumb.

Rebecca Peters is the Okoboji Director of Tourism. She said the area is prepared for the wave of tourists despite a shortage of employees.

“Workforce always has an impact on our businesses in the area because the key goal is to make sure that the customers are taken care of, and so the businesses are doing a really good job of trying to balance to make sure that they have enough staff to take care of their visitors when they come visit, but also to not burn out their staff,” said Peters.

However, if you head to the lakes this summer, don’t be suprised if some services are limited. But for Plumb, it’s not a problem.

“You know, some days we aren’t able to open maybe a couple of food concession stands that we would normally have open and have to plan around those types of things. There may be some longer lines but not because of the lack of employees, mostly because people are ready to get out, and we’ve been busier than normal,” says Plumb.

Different embassies are beginning to allow international workers to travel to lake Okoboji. In the past, workers have come from as far away as Bulgaria, Jamaica and Ukraine.

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