TELLER COUNTY– On Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis visited small businesses in Teller County as many continue to face worker shortages.
“I know there’s a lot of respectful focus on the front range, but most of Colorado is rural so this is an indicator how Colorado is fairing as well,” said Teller County Commissioner, Dan Williams.
Williams and other county leaders told Polis, COVID-19 forced the temporary closure of Cripple Creek’s casinos which in turn hurt the town’s economy. Sixty percent of Cripple Creek’s revenue comes from gaming.
“You can tell in restaurants, you go into restaurants and casinos, they used to be open every day and now they are closed two days a week,” said Cripple Creek resident Barbara Ingold.
The town is getting ready to welcome a brand new luxury casino hotel, the project is expected to be completed by 2021, but many fear it’ll be tough to staff the hotel.
Williams estimates more than 200 jobs are available in Cripple Creek and urged the governor to provide assistance in curbing the shortages impacting the rural town and community.
“Well the worker shortage is related to a few of factors. One is housing, especially in communities you can’t afford to live with a job in that community, it’s also related to training and opportunity, we are investing in workforce training centers,” said Governor Polis.
The federal government’s COVID-19 relief package provides $1.9 trillion in assistance to help communities all across the nation recover. Colorado was awarded $500 million by the federal government, and Governor Polis says he’s still working with lawmakers to determine how to spend that money.
“The state is really looking at using those one-time recovery dollars and what a great opportunity we have to invest in some of these transformational needs like housing,” said Polis.