By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Restaurants and hotels could soon get much needed financial help to overcome their hiring struggles. Businesses have been stepping up to get more applicants by increasing wages, adding benefits and tacking on hiring bonuses.

The City and County of Denver voted to approve a contract with the Colorado Restaurant Association Education Fund for $1,000,000 and a contract with Colorado Event Alliance for $500,000. The money will be used to help rebuild and strengthen business’ staff.

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(credit: CBS)

“They can use it to reward people who have been with them and give them a bonus. Or they can use it to attract people with things like a hiring bonus,” said Laura Shunk, president of the Colorado Restaurant Foundation. “It helps the employer be able to hire the talent they need without having to put that extra economic burden on them while they’re trying to recover.”

More than 91% of restaurants say they are struggling to hire enough staff. Some restaurants are already offering hiring bonuses, but many can’t afford to.

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Establishments can also use the money to help with the systemic issues of retention.

“People needing to find childcare, people needing to find transportation. Employers can also use this for those kinds of things as well. There are infrastructural problems that people are facing,” said Shunk.

Restaurant owners will be eligible for up to $10,000. Employers are not allowed to hold the money. They must pay it all directly to their employees.

“Is it the silver bullet in terms of solving the labor crisis? No, but it will certainly make a dent and it will bring people back to work,” said Shunk.

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The CRF will have an application up within a couple of days on for restaurants to submit their plan.

Tori Mason