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Lake George-area businesses scramble to fill shoes of foreign workers

Mark Mulholland
Updated: June 29, 2020 05:38 PM
Created: June 29, 2020 05:20 PM

LAKE GEORGE - Lake George businesses needs foreign workers. They typically bring in about 1,400 students through the federal J-1 visa program. Some work two or three jobs---cleaning toilets, serving ice cream, operating rides.

But the Trump administration has shut down the foreign visa program this year saying the jobs should go to Americans.

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Here in Lake George, Americans aren't taking them.

"There was never a displacement of American workers," said Sam Luciano, president of the Fort William Henry hotels.

Luciano says his businesses and others are scrambling without the J-1 student workers.

"It's two-fold through the area. Number one we don't have the J-1s to fill the positions and number two, a lot of the smaller operations, the mom-and-pop cabins if you will, used to house them."

Luciano says his company is offering transportation for local workers and even talking about offering childcare for them -- anything to help fill the positions.

"For years, many of their families have criticized the J-1 program for having taken away the jobs of our local students. Well let me tell you, here's your chance," said Robert Blais, mayor of the village for 49 years.

It's not just Lake George. Blue Spruce Landscaping, in business for 40 years in the Clifton Park-area, typically brings in 10 to 20 foreign workers for the summer season. Owner Anita Daly says not having them this year means they can't take on more work that would allow them to grow the business and hire more year-round local employees.  

"We're not taking away American jobs," said Daly. "In the end, you're actually costing us the opportunity to grow more opportunities."


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