Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the area was hiring at a brisk pace and positions were, for the most part, filled with area workers. However since that time, conditions have apparently changed. Now businesses and manufacturing struggle to fill positions throughout the area and there may be a number of reasons behind this.
In Forest City, convenience stores which were open 24 hours a day, have now cut back their hours and close anywhere between 10 pm to 11pm opting not to have a night shift. In Garner, restaurants are cutting back hours due to staffing while convenience stores close at 11pm. Manufacturing in the area is suffering as well as workers are slow to return after the pandemic.
Hancock County Economic Development Director Jill Kramer offered her opinion on the matter.
This makes it difficult to market the area as a viable location for business expansion and development. Kramer is not deterred by this.
Cities such as Garner, Britt, and Belmond have been working diligently on creating new housing opportunities. Garner has most recently begun to develop apartments above businesses in the downtown area and is looking to expand housing within city limits.
Belmond most recently used funding from the American Rescue Plan to begin a housing development. City Administrator Darrell Steven Carlyle explained how this was done.
In Forest City, Economic Development Director Beth Bilyeu explained that the city is actively working on the issue.
The casual observer may think that the work force shortage is due to people leaving the area, but Kramer doesn’t think that is the case.
The effort now is to return the mindset to getting back to work and working diligently to pursue housing and apartment possibilities in the area.