Leelanau County Businesses Suffering From Lack of Staffing During Tourist Season

Leelanau County businesses – suffering from lack of employees during tourism months… A problem confirmed by a new study.

It says the reason behind the shortage for many Leelanau County businesses is the cost of living in the county, keeping potential workers away.

9&10’s Taylor Jones looked into the issue that’s keeping some businesses from growing.

“Employees are what’s going to drive us,” says Drew Lutke, co owner of Hop Lot Brewing.

Businesses like Hop Lot in Leelanau County struggle to find employees during the summer tourism season.

“As we grow I think we’re going to have less and less employees and I feel service is going to suffer at that point and potentially the business in a way as well. We fear at some point were going to have to build a house or do something to house our employees,” says Lutke

A new survey by the Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation revealed the pros and the cons of doing business here.

“Our business owners are saying the lack of affordable housing for their workforce is their key barrier to business growth. Three quarters of Leelanau County businesses say that’s a severe challenge to them, ” says Julie Weeks, a Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation board member.

While the area’s natural beauty is considered one of the ‘pros,’ the labor shortage is definitely a ‘con.’

Hop Lot employee Andrew Baker says the price of living doesn’t exactly make him feel welcome.

”It would be nice if they would consider the work force the people that work down town or at restaurants that that we don’t make as much money,” says Baker.

It’s an issue the foundation says can’t be solved without effort.

It will take cooperation between local government and industry.

"We have to move quickly from identifying these challenges to figuring out the solutions. I think it’s clear that no one entity can solve these problems because they are quite complicated," Julie Weeks says.