LIMA — With numerous positions open across the country in the iron-worker industry, 26-year-old Fairfield native Brad Stigall decided on the Lima area for work, a decision that he believes was well worth it.
After recently finishing up his apprenticeship, Stigall was anxious to leave his hometown and get started on his career. He was ecstatic when his Local 55 union in Toledo notified him that there was an opening for a year-long temporary position at Pro-Tec Coating Company.
Pro-Tec Coating Company is a steel fabricator in Leipsic.
Excited about the opportunity, he applied and was hired on, but he was missing one element: a place to stay. So he explored what he thought would be the best affordable hospitality option: Airbnb, an online service for people to lease or rent their homes on a short-term basis. After searching through several homes, he decided on the home of entrepreneur and Lima Young Professionals member Ambyr Rose. He was impressed with the low nightly rate and the appearance of her home through pictures. With this being his first time time using Airbnb his two biggest fear were staying in someone’s home who was weird or made him feel uncomfortable, but those fears quickly disappeared the day he arrived at Rose’s house two weeks ago.
“Of course I was scared because this was my first one, but I when I arrived, she met me outside and made me feel so comfortable,” said Stigall.
The two-week stay at Rose’s house has been anything but ordinary, according to Stigall.
“Her hospitality is good, she’s nice, you can talk to her and she has really helped me out this week,” said Stigall. “She’s been helpful with showing me around and we event went out one night last week.”
When Rose signed up for Airbnb close to two months ago, her goal was to not only make an additional form of income but to also spread the love of Lima to all her guests.
According to Rose, with the influx of people relocating to this area due to the 1,000-plus Lima-area openings available on OhioMeansJobs, she knew that this would be an ideal time to sign up.
“Employers are doing a fantastic job in recruiting people to come,” said Rose. “They are shopping for employees to come and fall in love with the area and fall in love with their work culture,” said Rose. “One of the ways that I found to be awesome is instead of putting them in a static hotel, having them stay in Airbnbs with people who know the area well and can point them to those spots that help provide them with that quality of life.”
Lima area hospitals are among the many employers who Rose said have done a great job of recruiting new employees and getting them acclimated into the area. However, she believes that they need more help.
“The hospitals bring recruits in to show them the area first and to show them how they can get plugged in and what there is to fall in love with,” said Rose. “However, the hospitals can only do but so much because they are trying convince the top talent to stay at the hospital.”
If more employers suggested staying in an Airbnb or a hotel, with particular staff that will educate the talent on activities and events going on in the area, Rose believes that recruits would be more inclined to stay in the area.
“We have an incredible array of events in the area, from salsa dancing to laser tag to the art walks and the chalk walks and the poetry slams,” said Rose. “But there is a little bit of a gap that our community is working on bridging. We have what it takes to reinforce that the community has a ton of potential and plenty of things to offer if only they will come work here.”
Lima 3rd Ward Councilwoman Carla Thompson is another Airbnb host that enjoys inviting guests into her home to educate them about the numerous events and activities to explore in Lima. Since signing up for Airbnb close to three months ago, Thompson said she has hosted several traveling medical professionals and part-time nurses and doctors.
“I believe what these medical professionals enjoy the most is the fact that it’s really cheap compared to staying at a hotel,” said Thompson. “They are looking for convenience and affordability because staying at an Airbnb is usually a third of the cost of a hotel.”
Jed Metzger, President of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce said that he is proud of the efforts that Airbnb hosts are making towards embracing new people in the community and making them feel at home.
“Anything that we can do to take pride in our community and encourage people to check out the many things we have to offer we will do,” said Metzger. “We have a lot of things to offer, but unless you show people, they won’t know. I think what Ambyr is doing by showing and introducing people to what you can do in the community is great.”
Metzger hopes that the community’s efforts will help convince newcomers that Lima is the ideal place to live.
“There are many people who are sent here for a job but don’t know anything about the community,” said Metzger. “The more we can embrace them and give them those touches and encourage them to check things out, the more of an opportunity we have to keep them here to fall in love with our community.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.