BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) _ Some companies in northwest Minnesota find themselves struggling with skilled worker and chronic housing shortages because there are more jobs available in the area than places where workers can live.
Polaris Industries struggled for months to find qualified employees who could work at its Roseau operation, about 10 miles from the border with Canada, Minnesota Public Radio News (Polaris gets creative) reported. The snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle manufacturer ultimately decided to bring in workers from Mexico, but then the chronic housing shortage presented another problem. The company has resorted to busing the workers 80 miles to the plant each day from their living arrangements in Karlstad.
Rapidly growing sales have allowed Polaris to bring on up to 200 more permanent employees to its current payroll of around 1,600, said the economic development administrator at the Roseau plant.
Polaris is now working to place dozens of workers from its Mexico plant in a new apartment building that’s being constructed in Roseau. The company hopes to secure all or most of Parkland Place, a 30-unit apartment building, which should be completed sometime next year.
“We’re in talks,” developer Darrin Smedsmo said. “They want the space.”
Polaris is also responding to the labor shortage through a Twin Cities-based temporary labor contractor, according to Smedsmo. Strom Minnesota provides the workers and pays them weekly stipends to stay in hotels. Similar deals have been worked out throughout the area, said Smedsmo, who owns the AmericInn in Roseau.
Between 100 and 150 Strom workers began occupying the area’s motels earlier this summer, according to Todd Peterson, economic development administrator. He said the housing shortage is affecting the entire town. A local restaurant was forced to shut down last week because the owner couldn’t find someone to run the kitchen.
Peterson said he hopes to eventually bring more housing options to Roseau.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org