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Oshkosh businesses face staffing concerns ahead of EAA AirVenture

The last day of EAA AirVenture 2019 is underway. July 28, 2019. (WLUK)
The last day of EAA AirVenture 2019 is underway. July 28, 2019. (WLUK)
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WLUK) --In just two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people will be making their way to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture. While everyone is looking forward to its return, businesses are busy preparing.

With EAA AirVenture ticket sales on track with 2019 numbers, the event is preparing to welcome more than 640,000 visitors to eat, shop, and sleep in Oshkosh .

Amy Albright, executive director for Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau says the economic impact goes beyond the city's limits.

We have 1,000 hotel rooms so we're looking for lots of places to stay," said Albright. "So we're looking at people stimulating the economy around a pretty big radius of Oshkosh."

But like businesses all over, hiring workers has been a problem. Even for the hosts themselves, according to Dick Knapinski with EAA.

"It's one of those things we've been out there, and going to a lot of places we haven't before. Going to the farmers market and meeting people there and seeing if they're interested in coming to AirVenture for a week to make some extra cash and see the world's greatest airshow at the same time," said Knapinski.

EAA estimates it's a few dozen short of workers needed for the week.

"Looking for temporary workers like in retail, security, auto parking, some of those areas, we're fighting for that same little pool of candidates like everyone else," said Knapinski.

The impacts of EAA AirVenture goes beyond what happens at the grounds. At Mahoney's restaurant just two miles away, they're preparing for one of their busiest weeks.

"You hear every business within an hour of Oshkosh is busy, so we expect to see a great crowd," said general manager Scott Coleman.

Coleman says, like other restraints in the area, they're in need of kitchen staff, which may mean changes will come to accommodate for the larger crowds the week of EAA.

"We might even go with a limited menu since it is so busy that way we can pump out food a lot quicker and customers aren't waiting around for us," said Coleman.

Overall, the event is estimated to bring $170 million to the greater Oshkosh area.

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EAA also has more than 5,000 volunteers help during and before the event begins. They say they've had no problem bringing back and getting new volunteers.

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