Mountain Times, March 2022
Like most business owners, Chris Karr has struggled to find employees in the aftermath of the pandemic. Karr, the owner of six restaurants in Killington, usually employs up to 150 people in the peak season, but when the pandemic hit, he cut his staff by about half. Now he’s hiring those people back. “We lost a lot of workforce in Vermont with this pandemic,” Karr said. “A lot of people moved on from those positions and started doing other things.” Some employers have raised wages and offered retention incentives to attract workers. Karr started offering employee housing. “Not to give out my trade secrets, but it’s definitely made a difference,” Karr said.
Karr has seven units in Rutland, close to the bus route, and is looking for another 4-5 units. “We can put an ad out that says we’re looking for staff and we’re fortunate if we get an application,” Karr said. “As soon as we put in how we have lodging options for people, the emails blow up.” Karr said he charges his employees about $100 a week for lodging—well below fair market value. “At this point, lodging in Killington is cost prohibitive,” he said. “We need town employees to be able to afford to live in the town.”