Local businesses hurt from weather closures - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Local businesses hurt from weather closures

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Schools have been closed a lot this winter, including several days this week, due to nasty cold.  They aren't the only ones getting taking a hit from the weather.  Local businesses are hurting too. 

St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Rea says he has heard from over 50 businesses that brought issues that were whether related.  "We had one this morning that contacted me that lost $130,000 in revenue just this month so far," Rea said.  "With that they didn't count for lost wages. The other challenge is that many of these people have employees that don't get paid if they don't work." 

As a result of the closures, many companies have had their employees work overtime to meet demands. Although many manufacturers could not get their shipments to their buyers, the customers did not understand why products did not reach them.  

"They were calling me during this emergency saying they've got to lift this emergency so our workers can get in," said Elkhart Chamber Commerce President Kyle Hannon, "because our customers in other parts of the world, they're not real sympathetic to a snow emergency in Northern Indiana,"  .

Rea also these kinds of closures have a big impact on future business decisions by the companies.  "When the home office is somewhere else, and they're thinking about production, and they think we've lost nine shifts of production in the month of January in the South Bend area," Rea said. "Then when we do our expansion next time, do we do it in Omaha or South Bend?" 

Both Rea and Hannon said that restaurants specifically were hurt from the closures. LaSalle Grill founder, Mark McDonnell, says that he lost between $10,000 and $12,000 combined over two days.  

"We lost the beginning of Restaurant Week this past Monday and effectively all of Tuesday because most people had already made plans to stay home," McDonnell said.  "They weren't working, so the business cycle was definitely disrupted by this travel ban." 

Restaurant Week features sixteen restaurants in the downtown South Bend area. The event runs through February 9.  

Rea and Hannon both said that they are in talks with government officials to discuss how to handle matters like this in the future. Both stress the importance of keeping workers safe, but said that they hope to find a way to not be as disruptive to businesses.

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