Major south metro employers will ring in summer hiring season with a large-scale effort to woo workers March 28 at the RiverSouth Job Fair — an event aimed at filling more than 2,400 open positions.

Canterbury Park, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Valleyfair and the Renaissance Festival will hold interviews at Canterbury’s new Event and Expo Center, where some positions will be filled on-the-spot.

The hiring collaboration comes as the economy is improving, so finding a large number of applicants is more difficult than it has been in past years, said Deb Schaber, marketing communications director for the Renaissance Festival.

“Ultimately, we are all competing against each other for employees, but we all have our little niches … that set us apart from each other,” she said.

All four companies routinely expand recruiting for the busy summer season, but this is the first time they’re making it a joint effort thanks to the new RiverSouth partnership, formed along with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the cities of Prior Lake and Shakopee.

RiverSouth launched in July and aims to increase marketing power and collaboration in the Shakopee area, which the group calls “The Land of Fun” because of its concentration of entertainment attractions.

“I worked at Valleyfair as a seasonal employee back in the 80s,” said Dave Frazier, who is now the theme park’s general manager and vice president. “And I wish someone would have helped me in my direction for my career. It worked out for me, but what I see as the direction for us working together is to get people down here to see what the possibilities are.”

The four businesses plan to share applicants or recommend potential hires to each other.

“There’s been so much more discussion among the group in sharing ideas and sharing candidates,” said Mary Fleming, vice president of human resources at Canterbury. “We are all willing and more than happy to work with each other and recommend [people].”

Transportation challenges

As the businesses rushes to fill positions before the summer, they’re also scrambling to find ways for employees to get to work.

Mystic Lake and Canterbury will partner to transport job fair attendees to and from the event, but there are no public buses that service each location daily. That can make it difficult for some seasonal workers who don’t own vehicles to get to work.

Mystic Lake has tackled that issue by offering a free shuttle service for employees, transporting about 10 percent of its workforce each day, said Tom Polusny, executive vice president of operations at Mystic Lake.

Meanwhile, Valleyfair is kicking off its own transportation program for employees this season with plans to create its own fleet of shuttles, including two new 15-passenger vans.

Canterbury and the Renaissance Festival are brainstorming new transportation ideas for employees — on their own and within the RiverSouth group.

“We’ve just started some conversations,” Schaber said. “We need to explore that more with our employees and job seekers … We need to think outside of the box a little bit.”

Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), has plans to conduct a study of transportation needs in northern Scott County later this year, according to Robin Selvig, MVTA’s customer relations manager.

Wide range of jobs

Most of the open positions are seasonal with both full- and part-time hours, but more than 200 positions are permanent jobs with benefits.

Mystic Lake will hire for 125 full-time, permanent positions, with benefits including sports club memberships, a discounted pharmacy program and perks like discounted meals.

“Mystic Lake will be doing a lot of hiring on-the-spot,” Polusny said. “Some positions will require additional screening and interviewing, and we will have operational people on hand to do secondary screenings.”

The companies are also looking for more than 20 summer interns in human resources, marketing, public relations, accounting, sales and social media.

Seasonal openings include security officers, concessions workers, tellers, maintenance positions, golf course rangers and builders. There are also positions operating TV cameras, games and rides.

“One of the benefits for job seekers is that they will really benefit from a one-stop shop,” Fleming said. “Those candidates are all coming to one spot and we all have a little different niche to fit their interests or talents.”


Janice Bitters is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer.