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In search of employees, northern Michigan businesses are building housing for them

Ten new mobile homes will house international workers at Interlochen Center for the Arts this summer.
Taylor Wizner
Interlochen Public Radio
Ten new mobile homes will house international workers at Interlochen Center for the Arts this summer.

The housing crunch has become so bad in northern Michigan, more companies are subsidizing housing for their employees. Some are going so far as building homes for them.

The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has long offered on-site housing to foreign workers who come for the summer. But its General Manager Matthew Bryant said the resort now struggles to hire young managers because affordable rentals are so scarce.

He said five of his managers lost their homes when their apartments were converted to short-term rentals.

This month, the Grand Traverse Resort plans to break ground on one of five apartment buildings that will house workers.

“When I worked in Mackinac Island, managers were housed in their housing. And so that’s kind of where I brought that idea,” Bryant said.

He said the need is enormous with the resort looking to hire about 450 more staff. Recently, Bryant said he had to rent a nearby apartment in order to recruit a chef.

“The hospitality industry is a starter job where people get experience and they move up to greater jobs,” said Bryant. “However you still need to provide and have housing to live.”

A shortage of builders has put the apartment buildings a year behind schedule, Bryant said.

Interlochen Center for the Arts just installed 10 new mobile homes on its campus to ease its employee housing burden. This summer international workers will stay there, but the arts campus is exploring offering housing to year-round employees.

Short’s Brewing Company recently purchased a 26 room motel in Bellaire–with the main purpose of ensuring housing for its staff. It will also offer rooms for paying guests.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.