Hiring Frenzy Causes Housing Crisis in Thief River Falls

Updated: 09/27/2013 6:15 AM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

With a lack of housing in Thief River Falls, one company has had to get very creative to recruit top-notch employees.

Most Minnesotans have never even heard of a company called Digi-Key, which sells electronic parts for everything from electronic cars to smart phones and medical devices.

More than 2,500 Minnesotans work at Digi-Key's 800,000 square foot facility. The company has half a million customers worldwide, with annual sales topping $1.5 billion.

It's the sixth largest electronic component distributor in the world. One of every three people who live in Thief River Falls actually work at Digi-Key, and the company needs to hire more workers to keep up with the demand. 

The problem is, there's a major housing shortage in Thief River Falls, so Digi-Key had to find a way to bring in people from other towns.

Now, the company uses buses to give employees free rides from cities like Grand Forks and Crookston.

The company is looking to hire 150 people this year, so it launched the bus service over the summer.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS checked in with Mayor Jim Dagg who was elected in January. He admitted the housing issue was an oversight years in the making.

It's not just Digi-Key, but Arctic Cat located next door is planning to add 90 new jobs.

Dagg said there are some new housing projects in the works. "We're looking at purchasing some land on the westside of town to help push forward some development for mobile home and apartment complexes."

He would like to see 2,000 more places to live added in the next five to 10 years.