Labor seeing influx | SteamboatToday.com

Labor seeing influx

Business owners get more resumes than normal

Blythe Terrell

— Steamboat Springs’ employment situation is “night and day” compared with six months ago, a business owner said last week.

Steve Hitchcock, who plans to open Zirkel Trading this month, said he has had no problem finding applicants for his new store. He’s gotten bites from the East Coast, the West Coast, the Front Range and Steamboat, he said. Despite the economy, Hitchcock is optimistic about the coming tourism season.

“I am reminded of what it was like here in October of 2001 after Sept. 11, and no one was traveling anywhere for anything,” Hitchcock said. “The discussion around town was that it could be bad, maybe nobody comes, and when it came down to it, we had an OK winter.”

Applications also are pouring in at Johnny B Good’s Diner, said Mike Diemer, who owns the restaurant with his wife. The two aren’t looking to hire anyone but have seen three times the number of applications they typically get this time of year, Diemer said.

“Jobs are dropping off in general, and : I think businesses are tightening their belts and waiting to see,” Diemer said. “I think some jobs will open up as the season starts. If the snow doesn’t fly early like last year, I think that’ll affect it.”

The Diemers have seen some construction workers coming in who need jobs, he said. They’re holding off on hiring until they see how the ski season shapes up, Diemer said.

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At Yampa Valley Medical Associates, Dr. Brian Harrington said 18 people applied for an open business office position. The medical office is accustomed to getting two or three applicants.

“Many of the individuals were people from other industry segments around here, people who’d been working in real-estate-related areas and stuff like that who are now having to find a new job,” Harrington said.

He also has heard from patients who are fearful about the impact of the economy.

“Some of our patients are concerned about keeping their jobs and keeping their health insurance,” Harrington said. “I’ve had people come in : to get stuff wrapped up while they still have health insurance.”

Some business owners, however, are not seeing a change. The work force holds steady for Rex Brice, who runs Big House Burgers, Mazzola’s Italian Restaurant and Rex’s American Grill & Bar.

Although Brice has heard that fewer jobs are available in Steamboat, he said he has had many of the same employees at his restaurants for years.

“We have to add a couple people, but all three restaurants stay pretty consistent throughout the year,” he said. “This year, we will be looking for a few new first position cooks, and I’m hoping we can fill those with quality people. It will be interesting to see as we get a little closer to ski season.”

Turnover also is rare at the Holiday Inn, owner Scott Marr said. The hotel did have more applicants than usual for an open position recently, General Manager Barbara Robinson said.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. wouldn’t release information about its hiring or whether it has fewer open positions than usual.

“We’re filling the jobs in accordance with the expectations for the upcoming winter,” spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said.

At Johnny’s, Diemer said he expects hiring to pick up. The weather and Tuesday’s election could influence that, he said.

“If we get a blizzard and the election’s over, people can start thinking about something other than who’s voting for what and start booking” vacations, Diemer said.

He ended on a confident note.

“We’re optimistic,” Diemer said. “People are still wanting to come to Steamboat. We might have a better season than we ever dreamed of.”

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com