Mountain News: Visa program not working for Jackson 

Jackson Hole’s absent high season work force

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – It’s high season in Jackson Hole, where summer is far busier than winter at such properties as the Four Seasons. But employers who have come to depend upon seasonal workers from Mexico and other countries are hard-pressed. The H2-B visa program has been sluggish in delivering workers. By one estimate, the program is 30 per cent backlogged.

The Four Seasons, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide, is asking employees to work overtime, and has shipped in employees from Scottsdale and Philadelphia. Jackson’s mayor, Mark Barron, who owns a dry cleaning business, was denied the 20 workers he had applied for.

“Two, three, four years ago, the H2-B program was meant to supplement the workforce, but now it is a core element of our workforce that we are dependent on,” said Tim O’Donoghue, executive director of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. “When there are changes in the program, there are significant ripple effects.”


Worker pinch foretold

INVERMERE, B.C.   – The tourism sector of the Kootenays, in south-central British Columbia, should expect that getting employees will be much more difficult in coming years.

An organization called go2, the human resources arm of Tourism B.C., said tourism businesses are likely to need 40 per cent more employees by the year 2015. Tourism businesses will grow, but several new resorts are planned.

But the population is aging in Canada, with baby boomers an even more powerful influence than is the case in the United States. As such, resort employers must offer better compensation — a difficult proposition in the short but busy season of summer, notes a report in the Invermere Valley Echo.


A tangled housing web

KETCHUM, Idaho – Oh what a tangled web the Idaho Mountain Express reports in a matter of run-down housing in Ketchum. If only by association, the web in this case reaches the graft-tainted Bush administration.

The story begins with the importing of Thai marijuana in the 1970s by two local men, who also bought 14 housing units in a project called Bavarian Village. After the handcuffs fell on their wrists several years ago, the U.S. Attorney General attempted to sell the condominiums. The Attorney General's office usually splits the proceeds from ill-gotten drug deals with local law-enforcement agencies.

An auction was held in adjoining Sun Valley. The minimum bid set by the U.S. attorney was $3.4 million, which estimated the potential value at $14 million. The only bid was $2.3 million from a local affordable-housing organization, which was to have been aided by the local public housing authority.

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