Groups helping Hampton Roads businesses to fill open positions at shops

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Posted at 8:51 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 22:49:04-04

HAMPTON, Va. - On a Monday, you'd expect to hear lots of people at Carlyle Bland's restaurants, Marker 20 and Brown Chicken Brown Cow in Hampton.

“This is our existence,” Bland said.

But at Venture Kitchen & Bar, the sounds of bottle coolers are all you'd hear.

“It’s depressing,” he said.

Bland told News 3 he’s had to close Venture restaurant on Mondays due to a lack of employees.

“I think a lot of people just left the industry. I don’t think they’re sitting at home collecting a check,” he said. “When we shut the restaurants down, they want to work, and other industries are paying really good wages.”

His goal has been to try and fill open spots at his three Hampton restaurants.

“At least three new employees per restaurant. I can take six,” he said.

Groups like the Retail Alliance said there are many reasons why it's been tough for local shops to find help. In April, many businesses voiced concerns on their Retail Pulse survey.

The survey shows 29% were most concerned about staff recruitment, while 22% were most concerned about retaining staff.

“These recruits are just not even showing up to the interviews, and that could be driven also by unemployment, which doesn’t end until the end of August,” Kylie Ross Sibert, VP Corporate Communications for Retail Alliance said. “We’ve also got parents that have been at home looking after their kids - either school-aged or younger - now they have the choice. Do I return to work, pay for childcare or summer camps? Or do I stay at home a little longer, spend the summer months with my kids, look for a job in the fall and I still receive unemployment until the end of August?”

The Retail Alliance has been helping address the issue.

“A lot of what we’re doing is just communicating, sharing job fairs [and] sharing job needs,” Sibert said.

The same goes for the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, which plans to post online resources while offering advice for employers.

“You may want to change the way that you do business [and] become more employee-centric,” Hampton Roads SBDC Executive Director Jim Carroll said. “There are creative ways that are out there - albeit, they cost money. But, in the long run, it’s do you pay now or pay later? And if you pay now, you may not have to pay later by closing your business down.”

Meanwhile, Bland is keeping his glass half full.

“I’m optimistic about the future, but it’s just a little tight right now,” he said.

To learn more about the openings at Bland's restaurants, click on the names linked in this story to connect to their Facebook page.

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