Huron turkey plant recruiting workers from Puerto Rico

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HURON, S.D. Half of Puerto Rico is still without power following Hurricane Maria's devastating hit more than 3 months ago. As the people recover, many are looking for work in places as far away as Huron.

Dakota Provisions, a turkey processing plant in Huron, is working to recruit hurricane victims to South Dakota.

"If we just sit in Huron and wait to see who comes into the door, that’s not going to supply our recruitment needs, so we’ve done some very innovative things. We have a lot of employees that are refugees from Burma and recently we’ve been going to Puerto Rico," Dakota Provisions HR Director Mark Heuston said.

Dakota Provisions has been recruiting workers over the past year and have gotten about 100 people to move up to Huron. Many of their friends and families plan on joining them soon.

Those who have recently come to work at the plant over the past few months are ready for work.

"In Puerto Rico, things are not that good and now we are looking for something much better and opportunity to move forward and make our own," Puerto Rico resident Kenny Vélez. He's been working at Dakota Provisions for about 7 months now.

"In Puerto Rico, everything is expensive. No work. It’s difficult you know and here you have the opportunity the job and you grow up," Puerto Rico Resident Jeremy Barreto said. He's been working at the plant for almost 1.5 years.

The word about the opportunity for work in Huron is spreading in Puerto Rico between classified ads to Facebook posts to talk between friends and family.

Dakota Provisions sends down one of their own to do face-to-face interviews. HR Manager Oscar Luque stays for about a week and brings down drug tests for potential employees.

"At least they get to talk to the person that actually is meeting with them there, picking them up in the airport, getting them in a hotel, getting them in their apartment, and helping them with employment In the regular needs," Luque said.

The plant hopes to increase recruitment efforts in Puerto Rico, as well as other countries. It plans to open a new processing plant in the next few weeks.