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Midwest Allies Staffing Agency opens in Round Lake

Women plan to add a mini market and deli to their business in the coming months.

Sonia Garcia (from left), Leah Perez De Torres and Maria Valle have teamed up to open Midwest Allies Staffing on Main Street in Round Lake. Their office is located in the former Sunset Bar and Grill, and will soon also be home to a mini market and deli.
Sonia Garcia (from left), Leah Perez De Torres and Maria Valle have teamed up to open Midwest Allies Staffing on Main Street in Round Lake. Their office is located in the former Sunset Bar and Grill, and will soon also be home to a mini market and deli.
Photo courtesy Maria Valle
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ROUND LAKE — A trio of Worthington women are combining their talents to open a new business on Main Street in Round Lake.

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Maria Valle and Leah Perez De Torres have teamed up to open Midwest Allies Staffing Agency, a new business designed to connect job seekers with employers throughout the region. Their partner, Sonia Garcia, plans to open a mini-market and deli within the same building — the former Sunset Grill at 157 Main Street — in the coming months.

Valle and Leah Perez De Torres are fluent in Spanish and English, and say the service is greatly needed in the region, as many Spanish-speaking residents want to work but can’t fill out a job application, much less know who is looking for workers.

“One of the things we have noticed in our community is that there are a lot of openings around town,” Valle said.

She shared her idea with Perez De Torres and the two decided to use their previous experience to start a business helping others find jobs.

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“We have relatives and friends who have asked us who’s hiring,” Valle said. “Being in the community where I grew up, I constantly get asked if I know anybody hiring.”

“We have the same … goals to see our community grow and prosper,” added Perez De Torres.

Perez De Torres came to Worthington 23 years ago, and Garcia — who loves to cook the foods of her homeland of El Salvador — moved to the community four years ago.

Valle purchased the former Sunset Bar and Grill last year, and renovations began almost immediately.

The office for the staffing agency was completed at the end of December, and the women opened their office Jan. 17. They’ve been busy already, reaching out to employers to establish contracts, and then finding people to fill the jobs.

Valle said they have a lot of individuals who are particularly interested in farm work, and encouraged area livestock producers to connect with her office if they have jobs available.

“Our main goal is to contact companies around us — we want to hit Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota,” she said, adding that they want to work with employers who respect and value their employees.

At the same time, they are gathering information on people seeking employment.

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“Some, in the Hispanic community, don’t know how to fill out an application,” Perez De Torres said. “They aren’t familiar with online (applications). We’ll have them come in and help them fill out an application.”

“We can also help them communicate with the work site,” added Valle. “We can be that middleman so we can make their lives better.

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“It’s a big need — there’s a lot of people that are looking for jobs.”

Valle worked at HyVee in Worthington for two and a half years, during which she made recommendations to change signage in the store to direct Spanish-speaking customers to the products they sought, and assisted in finding Spanish-speaking workers in both the bakery and customer service departments. She later spent five years at Bedford Industries, and then became a paraprofessional in District 518. She also serves as vice president of Worthington United, a local youth soccer program.

“My main idea has always been to own my own business,” Valle said. When she found Perez De Torres and Garcia, she discovered they shared the same goals of impacting their community and helping others.

“If we can help each other out, we can succeed,” she added.

Perez De Torres worked as a special-ed paraprofessional in District 518 before taking a year-round job in a business office, where she handled payroll, wrote checks and ensured payments were being made.

While both will be able to help Spanish-speaking people find employment, Valle said they have access to interpreters in the languages of Lao, Amharic and others.

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As they grow their staffing agency, renovations for the mini-market and deli continue. Valle is hopeful it will be ready to open within the next six months.

“The grocery store is going to take a little while,” Valle said. “It’s little by little. We are fixing the restrooms right now.”

Garcia, who served as a police officer for 11 years in El Salvador, is equally qualified to serve up delicious food. She and her husband, along with their two children, relocated to Worthington because of the dangerous living conditions where they’d been.

“She’s always wanted her own little restaurant — that’s her dream; her goal,” Valle interpreted for Garcia.

Garcia said she knows what it’s like to be an immigrant — and everything an immigrant goes through to come to the U.S. — and she’s hoping to share her knowledge and experience with others who have arrived and are searching for their American dream.

To reach Midwest Allies Staffing Agency, email midwestallies@gmail.com or call (507) 945-3627.

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