ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- Denise and Tim Coulter own 7 Subway franchises in the Big Country. Their restaurant on Mockingbird street was temporarily closed during the pandemic, when it came time to re-open, no applicants could be found.

“And it’s become progressively worse and I would say in January to February it’s become critical” Says Franchisee Denise Coulter.

The lack of incoming applications is being experienced in all parts of the big country.

“It’s not unique to Denise and her team, we’re hearing this all across the Big Country and from peers all across the country,” says Abilene Chamber of Commerce VP of Communications Laurin Kocurek.

Normally, the Coulters would have 60 employees between all seven of their locations, this workforce crisis has them down to only 35.

They have implemented some necessary changes such as increased starting pay and decreased store hours.

“We had some people that have worked 7 days a week three weeks in a row, and at that point we made the decision to close on Sundays” Said Coulter.

A recent survey done by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce hits at what Kocurek calls a “perfect storm” for a decreased workforce including increased tax benefits, and bolstered unemployment payments.

“That’s helped in one way but it’s hard in another because we don’t have the staff to cover it,” said Coulter.

To get the word out that Abilene businesses are hiring and ready to work, The Abilene Chamber of Commerce will be holding a Job Fair at the Rose Park Activity Building (2633 south 7th) on Wednesday the 28th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Employers can post listings in the area and workers can find a suitable job at Abileneworks.com.

“Abilene businesses are safe, they’re ready to hire and they’re ready to give you the opportunity to succeed,” said Kocurek.