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What’s next for small businesses in college towns if campuses don’t reopen fully?

When the students disappear – what happens to a college town? That question will likely be tested to some degree this fall in communities across New York and the U.S., as universities open slowly to prevent a super-spreader scenario on campuses.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has put colleges in a difficult position. As they weigh whether they can continue operating at half- or less-capacity – small business owners in these communities ask an equally important question: Can we survive?


“It’s going to be hard. I mean, normally we have about seven months that the colleges are here,” Gregar Brous, who runs the local Collegetown Bagels shops in Ithaca. “One of the biggest challenges right now is so many unknowns.”

Ithaca College plans to bring students back in the fall – but not until October 5th. Cornell University still hasn’t come up with a plan for fall.

There’s still a challenge, though.

“If people don’t feel comfortable sending their children across the country or across the world back to our campuses, then we’ll start to shed jobs,” Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said.

 

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