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Florence business owner hopes to see more job applicants after pandemic unemployment benefits end

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 9:41 PM CDT
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FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - Some Alabamians receiving unemployment benefits will no longer receive them after June 19th.

This week, Governor Kay Ivey said the state will reject federal funding aimed at expanding unemployment benefits due to the pandemic.

3/14/20 is the last sign-in date on a clipboard sitting at the front desk of Florence Escape Room. That was the last day the business was open.

Owner Bobby Lindholm is getting ready to reopen the escape room. He’s also the owner of the popular grilled cheese restaurant, Cheesy Bob.

He said there’s one problem.

“Now we’re running into the issue of finding help. We just can’t find the people that we need to kind of sustain the customers that are coming in,” said Lindholm.

Despite the pandemic, 11 businesses opened in Florence this April.

“This economy, the local economy benefits from every dollar that is spent locally,” said Shoals Chamber of Commerce President, Caitlin Holland.

But with fewer workers, some businesses are having a hard time sustaining the workload.

“We’ve placed ads in multiple locations for almost a few weeks now with only just a small handful of people applying. So it is getting pretty tough to find anybody,” said Lindholm.

Senator Tim Melson of Florence said there are two options to deal with labor shortages, but no right answer.

“As a business person, you’ve got to make a decision if you need to increase your salary and give benefits to get the workers in there or just cut back and do what you need to do to accommodate it. I know some restaurants are just opening at nights and weekends so it’s a tough decision,” said Melson.

Lindholm is hopeful the governor’s decision helps area business owners fill jobs.

“Getting back into the workforce is only going to help everybody continue to get stronger and better. So I am just kind of hoping that there is a realization some point and time that the COVID era is slowly, hopefully, going away and everybody can get back to some normalcy,” said Lindholm.

Meanwhile, the Alabama Department of Labor has reinstated the work search requirement for anyone wishing to apply for unemployment.

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