Cape Cod is a unique place that can be challenging for local businesses to operate in. One those characteristics is even more exaggerated on the Outer Cape. Between mid-June and early September the majority of the area’s economic activity takes place; the winter, by contrast, is quiet with a brief uptick during the holidays and then it gets really slow in January and February. To make it even more challenging the labor market is skewed in the opposite direction: in the winter there are a number people who are looking for work, and there are few jobs available, while in the summer there is an acute labor shortage. The result is that many local businesses with sizable seasonal staffing needs are forced to look elsewhere to fill their positions. For example, our staff balloons from six year-round staff members to thirty or more in the summer season. To fill all of these positions, we and many other local businesses have to import students from other countries. That means that there are hundreds of international students in each town on the Cape, all of whom need to be housed by their employers. The availability of labor is, in fact, the main limitation of our operational growth of our cleaning and linen rental services in the summer.
There is a lot of work involved in recruiting and preparing for the international students. We review hundreds of applicants each winter trying to make sure that they are compatible for both us, the local area, and with each other. We provide housing for all of the students that we sponsor, something that is quite difficult in the local housing market. We have been sponsoring these students for years! It is always interesting to watch the mix of cultures and to see the Cape and America through their eyes.