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Greater Mankato Growth weighs in on restaurant closures, staffing shortages

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 5:08 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 7:45 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - A nationwide staffing shortage is taking a toll on the restaurant industry.

Perkins on Highway 169 closed its doors last week. Buffalo Wings and Rings is following closely behind, shutting down Sunday.

The establishments are two of many Mankato-area businesses affected by the shortage.

Ryan Vesey, Economic Development Specialist at Greater Mankato Growth said, “There were closures at the beginning of the pandemic. There were businesses that stayed open, and they were able to take a lot of those employees that were originally within the restaurant industry.”

As the struggle to find help continues, employees are taking on unsustainable workloads with extra duties and extended hours. Plus, as life returns to normal, customers are eating out more.

Despite the growing demand and depleted personnel, Greater Mankato Growth says most local restaurants are doing well. Vesey added, “We’re staying open much longer with more hours than they are in other areas of the nation where restaurants are closing for long periods during the week, much more reduced hours than we’re seeing here.”

But, GMG is working on ways to meet the needs of short-staffed businesses. Jessica Beyer, President and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth mentioned, “There’s a number of short-term and long-term things that we’re looking at.”

In the short-term, GMG recommends companies adopt a more inclusive hiring process to help more unemployed immigrants, individuals with disabilities and those with criminal backgrounds find work. Vesey said, “By finding ways to employ those individuals within our community, we can take some immediate steps to reduce the talent shortage.”

In the long-term, GMG says they are working to increase the local population. “Our public partners are working on strategies and putting an emphasis on really looking at housing and daycare. Our hope is that more people will enter the workforce. We’ll kind of level off with seeing less exit,” explained Beyer.

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