Chamber director: Workforce shortage plaguing area businesses

Rochelle Area Chamber of Commerce Director Tricia Herrera said this week that workforce shortage issues have been seen “across the board” in local business sectors.

‘It’s kind of across the board’

ROCHELLE — Rochelle Area Chamber of Commerce Director Tricia Herrera said this week that workforce shortage issues have been seen “across the board” in local business sectors. 

The workforce shortage is nationwide and Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows recently told the News-Leader that there are currently 300 open jobs in town. Herrera said businesses big and small have seen the impacts, namely the industrial, food service and retail sectors. 

“Our industrial businesses are offering large bonuses and still can’t staff,” Herrera said. “It is concerning. We want places to stay in business and be productive and profit. What will happen if they can’t staff? Will some have to consolidate? Will some have to close their doors?”

Herrera said the issues have been ongoing for all of 2021 and possibly in the later months of 2020. The food service industry has been dealing with it “for a while.”

As far as the cause of the shortage, Herrera thinks part of it is due to additional benefits of unemployment programs that may outweigh working along with some being uncertain about being out in public and working around others during the pandemic. 

Herrera said the chamber is putting a job reforce board on its site to advertise openings and get the word out on who is hiring. The City of Rochelle recently announced a job fair that will take place Sept. 16 at Rochelle Township High School. 

“A job fair will help,” Herrera said. “A possible solution hasn’t been made clear yet. All industries have tried different things. Reaching out in different ways, offering things like bonuses. Nobody has figured out a solution yet.”

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