Mountain towns take hit in summer staffing

Local News

WINTER PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — Mountain towns all across Colorado are booming with summer tourism, but with such an influx of visitors, some places are having a hard time keeping up with the foot traffic.

On a walk around Winter Park, it’s easy to spot a “help wanted” or “hiring” sign. The mayor said service industry staffing is a crisis there.

“I would say were 25-30% down on staffing from where we need to be,” Mayor Nick Kutrumbos said.

Kutrumbos also owns a local restaurant, Deno’s Mountain Bistro, where he often has to step in to help either in the kitchen or the front of the house because they don’t have enough people hired.

He said it was bad before the pandemic, but it has just gotten worse since.

Cost of living an issue for workers

“We need to be campaigning that hospitality and restaurant jobs are good jobs, and they do pay well,” Kutrumbos said.

The Winter Park-Fraser Chamber said another reason people aren’t heading to the mountains for service industry jobs is because of the cost of living.

“We need to learn how to recruit people and help them have a good life here, because it is a good life,” Catherine Ross, the executive director of the Winter Park-Fraser Chamber said.

The mayor said that within the town of Winter Park, there are roughly under 50 housing units that are considered “deed-restricted properties,” and the waitlist of people wanting housing is in the hundreds.

“When you recruit a staff person, it’s difficult to get them to come so they can find a place to live,” Ross said.

The mayor said the town is moving forward with two workforce housing projects. But he said they need to work with developers to keep up with demand.

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