Speedway businesses race to fill staff shortages ahead of Indy 500

Indy 500

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The month of May means business is picking up in Speedway, Indiana.

The Indy 500 is less than two weeks away, but business owners say they are already struggling to keep up with increased foot traffic.

“We’ve seen anywhere from a 10 to 50% increase [in business] this month,” said Rusty Owens, district manager of Big Woods on the corner of Main and 10th Street. “But we’re not where we need to be from a staffing standpoint.”

Owens said a hiring event last week brought on 25 new employees, but he is still looking for more.

“We’re looking to hire anywhere from 40-50 employees on top of what we currently have,” said Owens.

Owners of Barbecue and Bourbon on Main Street faced the same issues earlier this year.

“Of the 22 that committed to coming in for an interview, zero showed up. No phone calls. No people. No nothing,” said owner Marcia Huff.

Thanks to referrals from current employees, Huff said the restaurant is now fully staffed. However, Huff said the same issues are delaying her second business venture, Founders Grounds Coffee Company.

“We were trying to get it open before the race, but we were seeing what a struggle it was to get people to commit to an interview even,” said Huff. “We were in the process of remodeling, getting things ready to roll, and then we kind of hit a wall because of hiring.”

Huff said the grand opening of Founders Grounds Coffee Co will now be in late June.

“I think by then people will be ready to go back to work,” said Huff. “The race will be over, there will be a little bit more of a calm, and I’m thinking it’s going to be fine. It will be fine.”

Speedway Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce Connie Harris said many people have different reasons for not returning to work, like enjoying time off, lack of childcare or lack of vaccination. Harris said the chamber hopes to help Speedway businesses by re-posting job hirings on social media and eventually holding a job fair in the fall.

“This is a great place to work all year, but especially the month of May,” Harris said.

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