Coronavirus outbreak has left Illinois' capital city devastated as the pandemic dealt a massive blow to the city's economy.
In normal times, the spring season brings more people to the city, the Chicago Tribune reported. The General Assembly is in session, business conventions start up and visitors come in the city to tour historical sites and museums.
The legislative session increases business for Springfield restaurants like St. Patrick’s Day does for bars and the Christmas season does for retailers, said Lisa Clemmons Stott, executive director of business nonprofit Downtown Springfield Inc.
“Our restaurants usually count on the legislators returning to town for their baseline support,” Stott said. “It starts the year out better for them and it gets them through the year in many cases. So, losing that has been devastating."
Her point is underlined by the numbers from Downtown Springfield Inc, that show many downtown businesses have seen a drop of more than 75% of their revenue and the fact that at least 20% of the downtown workforce has been let go.
And those percentages translate into dollars.
"Between the legislature not being in and losing conventions that were scheduled for March, April and May, if you’re just talking this spring, we’ve lost hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Stott.
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder noted that some small business owners said they might be able to “weather a month” of the state shutdown that is scheduled to end in April.
“I think if you go well into May, or past that point, it could be very harmful, it could be potentially devastating to small businesses,” Langfelder said.
In August, the Illinois State Fair draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. But that might not happen this year since Gov. J.B. Pritzker suggested earlier this month that “everybody needs to think carefully about canceling large summer events.”
“The health and safety of fair-goers is our top priority and we continue to work closely with the Illinois Department of Public Health to determine the best course forward for the 2020 State Fair,” an Illinois Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said in a statement earlier this month.