CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — During the height of the pandemic, the hospitality industry suffered immense losses.
Now, the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau is working to support businesses in the industry as they begin to rebuild.
“It’s affecting Happy Valley and Centre County just as much as it is everywhere else,” HVAB President and CEO Fritz Smith said.
Smith added that employment is down by about 800 Happy Valley hospitality jobs from pre-pandemic levels.
“Sometimes, restaurants don’t have enough people to open,” Smith said. “In State College, you see a lot of restaurants that are not open on Monday or Tuesday because they just don’t have enough people to work those shifts.”
HFL Corporation, which oversees the Sleep Inn and Comfort Suites in State College, is also experiencing this shortage.
“It’s from an operational standpoint to a time standpoint,” Executive Director of Sales Mike Szczesny said. “Just covering shifts, doing every imaginable thing just to keep everything afloat.”
HVAB recently announced a Happy Valley Hospitality campaign to support employees in the area who work in the industry. A key aspect of the Happy Valley Hospitality campaign is highlighting “Profiles in Hospitality” on the HVAB website, blog and other platforms.
“We can only thrive as an industry and be a big provider of jobs, a big employer, if we’ve got enough people to work in the industry,” Smith said. “So, we need to keep making the people who work in the industry feel better and we need to recruit.”
The board of directors also formed a Workforce Task Force to explore solutions to help with ongoing labor shortages, led by Gary Hoover. The Workforce Task Force is exploring ways to assist businesses vital to the local economy and highlight job and career opportunities available within the hospitality industry.
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“You become like a family, but you just don’t want to be a tired family, Szczesny said. “You wanna have a fun family and I think that’s the key.”
Hospitality workers who want to share their story as a Profile in Hospitality can email LesleyK@happyvalley.com for consideration.