BLACK HILLS, S.D. — Vacant gift shops, closed amusement parks, and empty tourism caves in some parts of the Black Hills – not due to a lack of demand.
Tourism businesses seeking workers, and not drawing many, causing many to cut back services or limit the days they’re open.
“Each year by this time, we usually are wrapping up our hiring process and this year, we still have a ways to go, so it’s definitely been one of the more challenging years,” said Tom Hagen, owner of Rush Mountain Adventure Park.
At the Rush Mountain Adventure Park, they’re usually staffed up and ready for a busy summer. Now, the park is only staffed up and open for about half of the week (for hours, click here.)
Owner Tom Hagen seeing potential customers drive into his amusement park, only to see them turn around.
“It’s not easy to take, cause you know that you’re looking at the revenue that you need driving back off of your property but there’s really nothing that we can do about it,” Hagen said.
But a partnership between the South Dakota Departments of Tourism and Labor and Regulation is looking to bring workers to the region.
A plan to use the state’s job dashboard, that consistently has more than 23,000 jobs.
Governor Kristi Noem, releasing a statement, hoping to shed light a workforce problem impacting South Dakotans, saying:
“We have more job openings than workers to fill them – especially in travel and tourism. This campaign will recruit more workers to our state to support tourism, our second largest industry.”
Other state officials involved in the partnership saying that they’re looking at all age groups to help solve the problem.
“We’re looking at populations, secretary (Jim) has talked about retired folks, if they maybe want to work a little bit, you know, 20 hours this summer and help out at a tourism or hospitality industry,” said Marcia Hultman, the Cabinet Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation.
A partnership, that looks to help key businesses in a key part of the state’s economy, stay afloat.
“I think it’s a great program, I’m excited about it and I think it’s really going to help us,” Hagen said.