Arnolds Park is constructing dorms for the large population of international students who work at the amusement park each year.

The northwest Iowa amusement park has employed students participating in the J-1 summer work exchange program for the last 15 years. Finding housing for them hasn’t always been easy — and CEO Jon Pausley says the seasonal employees have had to bike to their rentals or hotels located farther away.

“Knowing that they’re the backbone of our workforce during the summertime, we’d like to have them close by and in a safe place, and then give them a great experience while they’re with us,” Pausley says. Seasonal workers come from as far as Bulgaria, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic to spend a summer in Iowa.

He says the dorms are a way to keep them safe and ease transportation worries.”To just make sure that they’re not learning the roadways here in a new place late at night or early in the morning on a bicycle,” Pausley says. The three-story dorms will house up to 155 people and be completed in time for the park’s opening in mid-May.

Pausley says he hopes the existence of affordable housing near the park will help attract even more staff to the area.

(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)

Radio Iowa