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Friday, Jan 08, 2021 at 11:18 am

Local Syracuse Businesses Struggle Amid Extended Student Absence

Jesse Cook, SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Social distancing restrictions and the new Syracuse schedule has placed increased stress on local businesses.

During the semester, these establishments faced difficulties as a result of social distancing measures forcing them to allow fewer people in their doors at a time. In an effort to reduce student travel during the semester, Syracuse University reorganized their schedule so that students would not come back to campus after Thanksgiving, leaving the campus empty through December and the first few weeks of January.

Adding to the problems social distancing posed, no students for two consecutive months only worsened the already dire situation for local businesses.

Owner of the Orange Crate Brewing Company R.C. Faigle said that he brought in almost no money in December of 2020 compared to December of 2019. He said, “Last year, December of 2019, we netted one-hundred and twenty-four-thousand five-hundred dollars. This year, December of 2020, we’ve netted one-thousand eight-hundred dollars. I am down one-hundred and twenty-three-thousand dollars, just from the month of December. Every small business in the Marshall Street/South Crouse community, I’m sure, is feeling that effect.”

Marshall Street Jimmy John’s manager Bill Parent said that Onondaga County has worked closely with local establishments to help them through their pandemic economic struggles. “We haven’t had much contact with the city themself, but I’ll tell you, the Onondaga County health department, they’ve been wonderful,” he said.

He continued that, “They [the Onondaga County health department] send me emails asking, ‘Bill, do you have any concerns? Do you have any questions about updated policies? Do you need anything from us? Is there anything that we can do for you?’”

Many have seen their staff numbers decimated. Faigle said, “When the pandemic started last March, we had fifty-three staff members, today, I currently have three.”

The issue is not unique to Onondaga County as normally packed shops around the country have turned into ghost towns.

Some owners have been forced to file for bankruptcy, some have been forced to temporarily close. Faigle said that in the decades he has operated the Orange Crate Brewing Company, he has never had to close for an extended period of time. “For the first time in twenty-five years, I had to make the decision to close,” he said.

Students are set to begin classes again on February 8, but many Marshall Street and Crouse Avenue businesses will struggle while they wait for students to return.