Cook County Chamber of Commerce launches campaign to recruit seasonal workers
Jun 08, 2020 09:18PM
It’s welcome news indeed that our Cook County economy is springing back to life this summer more strongly than many expected. But that quick rebound has caught a number of employers without the staff to fully benefit – a difficulty highlighted by the unavailability of many workers in the J1 and H2B visa programs.
The Chamber wants to help. Starting last year, we developed a program for recruiting hospitality industry workers from Puerto Rico. They are American citizens who require no visas, and their industry has been severely damaged by hurricanes and earthquakes. Unfortunately, just as that effort was gaining traction, the pandemic hit and it was put on hold.
Now we want to restart and expand that program. Laura Muus, our workforce recruitment specialist, will be going back to work and redoubling her effort to help find workers for Chamber members. Not only will she look for workers in Puerto Rico, she also will seek them in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in Minnesota and nearby states – anywhere there are workers available to take the jobs waiting for them in Cook County. Laura will employ every effective avenue she can in an effort to quickly help employers fill out their staff.
For now, there is no cost to gain Laura’s help. We will use the funds left in the original Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation grant that was secured to underwrite her Puerto Rico effort. Until those funds are exhausted, membership in the Chamber is all you need to avail yourself of Laura’s assistance. She may be contacted at [email protected] or at 370-2410. If we do exhaust the grant funding, it may be necessary to charge for Laura’s services, but it is quite unlikely that will happen this summer.
As you would expect, bringing workers into Cook County during this pandemic imposes special obligations on employers. We have attached to this email a document laying out guidance for handling the arrival and housing of employees from outside Cook County. Please be aware that you will be required to provide housing for any workers you are able to recruit through this program. Conversely, if you are an employer who has excess housing to rent, please let Laura know.