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MU’s virtual graduation means losses for local businesses


Local businesses are feeling the economic impact of the University of Missouri’s virtual graduation, as this time of year is usually a prime time for local hotels and restaurants.

This time last year, when graduation was being held in person, businesses were full. This year MU will not in-person ceremonies because of local orders requiring social distancing to fight COVID-19.

Edward Baker with Holiday Inn Executive Center said not having in-person graduation has had a huge impact on his business. 

Baker said last year his sales during MU's graduation totaled $200,000. Baker said this weekend at most the hotel will bring in $5,000. 

Baker said the pandemic has been devastating to the business industry.

“Our concern is, can we survive it through the summer,” Baker said. “And the answer is, I cannot. I cannot survive it, I'm losing $6,000, $7,000 a day.”

Baker said this time of year business is great, but he said he’s never seen anything like this in his nearly 40 years of working in the hotel industry. 

“I've not had any month ever as bad as these last two and a half months,” Baker said. “I mean there's nothing even to compare.”

Baker said the hotel industry is just one sector that has been affected, as local restaurants will feel the hit as well.

Matt Jenne, co-owner of Sophia’s and Addison’s restaurants in Columbia, said this year's graduation season looks far different for his business. 

“Graduation weekend for my businesses was the busiest weekend that we had every year,” Jenne said. “Not having it definitely impacts us. It was a good time for our employees to make some money and that doesn't exist so that definitely has an impact.”

Jenne said March, April and May are his busiest months. The COVID-19 pandemic began to shape public life in Mid-Missouri in late March, prompting a stay-at-home order in Boone County.

“It's not been great as far as an economic stance goes,” Jenne said. “But we also are aware that there's a health crisis and that we have to really pay attention to the health of our community and want to make sure that we keep our cases low here in Columbia.”

Boone / Business / Columbia / Columbia Video / Economy / Mid-Missouri Business / News / Top Stories / University of Missouri / Video
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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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