Fewer Attractions for Foreign Workers in the Dells

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Businesses that rely on seasonal help have reported trouble this year in filling those slots. Some say it's due to a shortage of Visas for foreign workers. Businesses in the Dells also say the number of foreign workers has come up short, but they blame U.S. currency, not the nation's Visa program.

Tourist attractions like Mt. Olympus rely on a wave of foreign workers.

"We will probably have 100 internationals," Carrie Rohrer says.

Rohrer hires students from foreign countries. She says foreign help makes up one quarter of the water and theme park's employees. They work when American students cannot.

"In August especially, if we didn't have international students at that time, it would be pretty difficult," Rohrer says.

Young people like Gubio Henrique from Brazil come to the Dells to make money and to make friends.

"Last year I worked with people from Bulgaria, from everywhere," Henrique says.

Those who hire lifeguards like Henrique might usually see a flood of foreign applications, but they report far fewer this year.

"A lot of the students are going to the U.K. so that they can practice English and they don't have to pay high cost of travel here," Rohrer says.

Rohrer went to Europe to recruit summer help, but says a weak dollar is translating into a weaker turnout.

"The dollar is very weak in Europe right now, so they're not making as much money over here."

Henrique hears the same from friends he made here last season.

"The Europeans prefer to go to England to make money because it's easier, it's nearer, it's cheaper and the Euro, it's better than the dollar," he says.

Another reason businesses rely on foreign workers is the population. The local economy generates more than 20,000 full-time jobs, but the Dells and Lake Delton have a population one quarter that size.

"In the past, I would get 50 e-mails a day with people applying. Now I get 25, so there are still sources," Rohrer says.

They are sources Rohrer might need to tap. She says the season always seems to slide into an earlier start. Some seasonal industries rely on the H2B Visa. The government sets a cap on those. Employers in the Dells say that has not affected them because they largely rely on a different type of Visa for their workers.

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