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“It’s very, very difficult to find talented people in this labor market,” said Lynn Brown, regional human resources manager at Bluegreen Vacations. Few responded to the 20 vacancies he had posted online. It’s another challenge to get workers to stay. Aviles advises bosses to check in often, ask about their mothers and request that grocery stores in the area sell plantains and Goya coconut water. “It’s not enough to invite them to the party,” Aviles said, twisting his body to the beat. “Bring them to the dance floor.”.

Branson boasts hiking, cave tours and 47 music venues, including Dolly Parton’s horse show, which a Slate reviewer recently described as “the Lost Cause of the Confederacy meets Cirque du Soleil.”, The town logged a record 9 million visits from tourists in 2017, The local chamber of commerce expects an even bigger rush this year, thanks to rising wages nationwide, Branson’s workforce development team is partnering with local businesses, including food suppliers, to accommodate the new hires, But officials acknowledge that pre pointe shoes some in the area, which is 92.4 percent white, are clinging to the past, Confederate flags adorn shop windows, A billboard outside town advertises “White Pride Radio.”..

“We get nasty comments all the time,” said Heather Hardinger, programs director at the Taney County Partnership, which is working with the chamber on what it calls the “talent attraction” plan. Companies across the country are competing for workers from Puerto Rico, which has the highest jobless rate in the United States. (Last year’s average was 10.8 percent.). Firms in Maine, Wisconsin and Indiana have sought employees there, with some offering housing as a sweetener. One medical device maker in tiny Warsaw, Indiana, has provided its hires with cars.

Branson employers seek a variety of pre pointe shoes hires, from housekeepers to receptionists to senior managers in the tourism and hospitality industries, with pay ranging from $12 to $20 an hour, as well as hospital nurses whose salaries start at $54,000, If Puerto Ricans face hostility in the town, Hardinger worries they will decamp for somewhere else — and the town will be stuck without the workers it needs to grow, “The question we keep asking ourselves is: What can we do to set the community apart and make them feel at home here?” she said..

Branson has long sought temporary foreign workers to support its tourism industry and faced a crisis last summer when the Trump administration curbed the number of H-2B visas, cutting off a supply of seasonal employees from Belize. Local businesses requested 475 H-2B visas for workers in 2017 but received about 70, a town spokeswoman said. “That created an immediate shortage in the workforce,” said Jeff Seifried, president of Branson’s chamber of commerce. “It sent everyone scrambling.”.

Uncertainty around the H-2B visa program has pushed Branson to start building a new — and permanent — talent pool, Seifried said, The town, he said, needs a workforce that decisions in Washington can’t shrink, “Our market can’t grow without it,” Seifried said, The pre pointe shoes town’s workforce development team got to brainstorming, and it struck them: Puerto Rico is part of the United States — and the island’s jobless rate is typically much higher than Branson’s..

Perhaps they could make a deal: quality jobs and a warm welcome in exchange for hard workers who will consider staying. Chamber officials visited Puerto Rico last April, August and again in February to recruit workers for positions in hotels and hospitals. The effort has brought 269 people from the island to Branson. One of the first signs of resistance was a resident complaining he had read a story in the local newspaper last May about two men from Puerto Rico getting into a bar fight. “Did you bring them here?” he asked, Hardinger said she recalled. “We don’t want this violence.”.

“What if they had been from Minnesota?” she recalls responding, “Would you want Minnesotans to stop coming here?”, Juanita Vazquez, a 35-year-old San Juan native who came here last April to manage the Lodge of the Ozarks, a lumber-lined resort with 800 rooms, said she encountered discrimination just after Hurricane Maria lashed her hometown last September, She recalled a man eating scrambled eggs pre pointe shoes in the lobby, who looked up from his newspaper and said, “Why are we giving money to Puerto Rico? They’re so lazy.”..



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