Worker shortage has some Medora businesses worried


A nationwide shortage of H-2B visas has businesses scrambling to find workers.

And the shortage is having a direct impact on some store fronts in Medora.

Ray Strickland reports

An opportunity to improve his English turned into an opportunity for a new life.

Ukrainian born Lyubchyk Shkandriy came to America on a student travel visa in 2005.

He’s now married with children and as of last year, a U.S citizen.

“I don’t think I have left the state since I became American,” Shkandriy said.

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation hires more than 300 seasonal workers. Close to a third are international.

They’re working in various areas like housekeeping and cooking–a major component to their businesses..

“They bring a lot of experience here to Medora,” Mike Beaudoin, chief operating officer for the TRMF said.

But, for the past several years, the process to get international workers, particularly the ones on a H-2B visa, is getting slower by the year.

“There’s been more delays and more delays within the program,” Beaudoin said. “Not getting here until May, past years, it’s been closer to early April “

Despite the hurdles, the foundation will employ 45 H-2B workers this year..

“We’re fine and we are in a good position going into the summer,” he said.

Unlike the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, the Little Missouri Saloon, at this point, can’t open their business because of a shortage in workers.

“Other restaurants in town are closing two or three days a week just because there are nobody to work,” Jim Bridger, owner of the Little Missouri Saloon said. 

Owner Jim Bridger says at this time last year he would have close to 20 international workers, right now, he has one.

“Normally open for lunches right now,” Bridger said. “We haven’t been able to because of the worker shortage.”

He says if he can hire American workers he would, but after paying for many different ads, it hasn’t been a success.

Congress passed a resolution last week to increase the cap for the program, but workers are still hard to come by.

At the start of this year, the program allowed for 66,000 H2B visas.

With the new resolution, that number should probably double because it won’t count returning workers.

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