Tourism numbers in Golden have continued to grow steadily for eight years. Employers have seen an increase in demand for staff to accommodate these tourists and locals who visit their establishments, make purchases at their businesses, and stay in their accommodations.
Last summer, I felt the heat while working at a local restaurant. The days seemed endless, with table after table coming in to eat and drink on their way along the highway. We had people waiting for tables to clear up, patrons shuffling in with others, and at times, complete chaos.
For the past three years of my life in Golden, I have heard the cry for employees grow louder, and it is somewhat baffling. We live in such a beautiful place, filled with so many recreational opportunities. How could we not attract enough summer employees?
There could be a number of reasons. Automatically, the growing tourism numbers pop into mind. Another great ordeal, which I am facing myself right now, is not being able to find housing. Also, since we are trying to stretch our summer tourism months, people are looking to hire employees sooner, meaning that it is possible some students in high schools, colleges, or universities would not be able to apply for those jobs until later.
In June, the employment office had a full roster of jobs posted, but nobody was coming through their doors in search of work. A lot of people in Golden, like myself, have worked in the restaurant our hospitality industry, only to find a job in their career, or year-round jobs that keep them stable.
The answers to the problem aren’t immediately obvious, but some talk has been made about creating a job for an economic development officer. In other towns where I have lived, this means the person in this role is responsible for sussing out reasons for issues like these, and ensuring that business growth in the community continues to take a healthy forward-moving path. There is only so much the business owners, the chamber of commerce, and the tourism industry can do to reach out to potential employees.
Golden is such a beautiful place to be, but it can easily be missed on the map. I know that before I moved here, I thought it was just a gas and bathroom break at the Husky, but it is so much more than that. How we tell other people about our town will make the difference.
But, I cannot stress this enough, in the middle of summer, there is nearly no chance someone would move here unless they lived a nomadic lifestyle in their van, or had friends to stay with, because it is impossible to find a place to live. Some companies are offering staff housing, but those who aren’t will continue to struggle to find employees until something can be done.