BUFFALO, N.Y. — It didn't take long for Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid to reach out to the New York State Department of Labor after the federal government gave Venezuelan migrants Temporary Protected Status this week, which would make them eligible for work permits.
Operations Manager Andrew Weibrecht said the job market has been tough in the region and the industry since the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We really have openings in pretty much everything,” Weibrecht said. “Housekeeping. Maintenance. Dining. Kitchen. Spa. We're pretty much looking for more across the board.”
He said the 124-room hotel could comfortably take on 20-30 more full-time employees. Weibrecht said the inn already has several Venezuelan workers on the payroll and also regularly utilizes the federal J-1 work study visa program.
"We're set up to not only have jobs for people, but also to house them and potentially help feed them," he said.
GreenForce Training is an organization in Buffalo that assists Viridi, a private battery storage company, with recruitment, training and workforce support. Executive Director Jeffrey Conrad expects Viridi, which already employs a number of refugees from other countries, to be interested in hiring migrants too.
"We have really great relationships with the agencies that we have here that would be working primarily with these migrants, so as jobs open here we will be certainly getting that out to those companies and those organizations," Conrad said.
Venezuelans represent roughly 40% of the well-over 100,000 immigrants seeking asylum in New York state. Conrad said they're expedited work authorizations should help numerous industries.
"I think it's great, honestly,” he said. “From a workforce development perspective, New York state has over 400,000 open jobs right now. If you look at national statistics, we have about 1.5 jobs for every unemployed worker. So the individuals that are coming, they're going to assist us.”
The question now is: when? Eligibility for TPS began Tuesday, but it's not clear how long it will take the federal government to approve individual applications.
"Hopefully sooner than later, but we're just waiting to hear back and at this point you know about as much as we do, honestly," Weibrecht said.