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Help is coming for businesses in Naples that can’t find workers

Help is coming for businesses in Naples that can’t find workers
Posted at 8:52 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 20:52:20-04

NAPLES, Fla. — Help is coming for businesses in Naples that can’t find workers!

As Collier County’s Community Correspondent I hear about the struggles companies are having in finding hospitality and service workers.

However, for the first time since Hurricane Ian, a business that works to link the two has opened back up.

"Within less than 40 minutes, we went from no water to this was about six feet of water here,” said John Walters, Branch Manager for Labor Finders.

It’s a memory, a lot of people in Southwest Florida have from when Hurricane Ian ripped through walls and flooded homes and businesses.

"If the business didn't get hit, the home of the owner of the business got hit,” said Bethany Sawyer, with the Greater Naples Chamber. "We really had a big challenge on our hands."

Walters says when the water went down, the hard work started.

"I had workers standing around and I would open the back hatch in my truck, and I would dispatch one worker at a time,” said Walters. "We just I couldn't get enough workers."

For more than a year and a half, the company found workers for Collier County businesses out of temporary offices, but now they are back with a new challenge. A different type of labor shortage is looming across the county.

According to Collier County’s Tourism Bureau, there was a nearly 11% increase in direct spending from 2023 to 2024 from visitors, which Sawyer says creates more of a need for hospitality workers.

"We have a very diverse economy here, driven mostly by hospitality, and we are always challenged with finding workers,” said Sawyer. "Traditionally, our workforce has come from the north, and they've driven down to Naples every day happily, but now there's many places to stop along the way for work."

The county hopes an investment in workforce housing will help draw more workers to live and work here.

"I will get to know the manager of that facility and let them know ‘Hey, people renting here can come here for work,’” said Walters.