Lake George-area business leaders worry about impact of Coronavirus on foreign worker program

Mark Mulholland
Updated: March 02, 2020 07:10 PM
Created: March 02, 2020 05:51 PM

LAKE GEORGE - They clean the toilets, sweep floors, and serve the ice cream. They're the people who come from all over the world on J-1 student visas to fill thousands of positions during Lake George's busy summer season.

"We need these J-1 students," said Lake George Mayor Bob Blais. "They do jobs that are very difficult for us to fill."


The students typically start arriving in May and start working in time for the Americade motorcycle rally.

However, this year, there's worry here that Coronavirus could keep the students in their home countries.

"The concern is that of the 53 countries that people are coming from, what countries will not be allowed to come into the United States," said Gina Mintzer, executive director of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"It'd be devastating. Particularly as I say, to our larger employees," said Blais.

Six Flags Great Escape counts on about 200 employees through the foreign student visa program. A spokesman saying Monday that they don't expect a problem, but they're monitoring the situation and following guidance from the feds.

Still, there's enough concern around here that conversations are already being had about where to find other workers if the students aren't able to travel here.

"Do we go to the states like Texas and Florida where people might want to beat the heat that might be potential employees," said Mintzer. "All of the sudden, all of these conversations are really going to heat up now."

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