Lake Superior Project

SProject: From Puerto Rico to Lake Superior

Luis Cortes is used to big water. Now in his 40s, the new executive chef at Bluefin Bay Resort spent most of his adult life working at restaurants in Puerto Rico. There, salty waters washed ashore every morning and island life was everything most people only dream of. And then the storm hit.

After Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in fall 2017, Cortes was looking for steady work on the mainland. He found it more than 2,000 miles away in Minnesota and on the shores of Lake Superior.

As WTIP has reported in numerous interviews in 2018, including with the directors of the local chamber of commerce and economic development authority, staffing issues remain a persistent issue for many Cook County employers. To address the issue, an effort was made similar to ones taking place in communities such as Branson, Missouri, which is to essentially recruit workers from Puerto Rico. The process has been mostly slow going, with Bluefin Bay Resorts on the shores of Lake Superior leading the way and finding a good success rate amongst those who travel from the island to Tofte to work and live.

In this installment of the Lake Superior Project, we find out what it’s like from moving from Puerto Rico to the shores of Lake Superior.