Two dozen local business organizations and chambers of commerce have issued a joint statement urging President Donald J. Trump and Congress to end the ongoing federal government shutdown, now the longest in the nation’s history.
“While many communities across America are impacted by the ongoing federal government shutdown, it has a particularly adverse economic and human impact on Northern Virginia and the Capital region,” said Tony Howard, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. “In business, compromise is essential to negotiating agreements that lead to job creation, tax generation and economic opportunity. It is long past time for our national leaders to understand that compromise also is essential to the long-term security and economic stability of our region and of our nation, and to end this government shutdown.”
The statement calls on federal leaders to reopen the government and resume paychecks for nearly 150,000 federal workers. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 federal employees live in Loudoun, and Julie Coons, president and chief executive officer of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said the Northern Virginia region is home to about 375,000 federal contractors.
“It is hard to find an industry in Northern Virginia that is not impacted by the prolonged shutdown,” Coons said. “Northern Virginia’s economy is a highlight in our region and beyond—as our businesses continue to weather this uncertainty, the impact will unfortunately extend beyond just our region.”
Beyond the direct impacts on federal employees, said Kathy Hollinger, president and chief executive officer of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, their disrupted spending habits hit other businesses like restaurants.
“The impact of the shutdown is severe and far reaching,” Hollinger said. “Our local business community and economy are directly impacted by this furlough, and our local restaurants have reported a twenty percent average decrease in sales with some losing as much as sixty percent in sales.”
Similarly, other businesses like property management companies are feeling the squeeze, said Margaret “Peggy” Jeffers, executive vice president of the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington.
“Many of our members are supporting their apartment building residents who have been furloughed by offering a variety of options, including waiving fees for late rental payment and deferring charges,” Jeffers said. “For office building owners and managers who lease space to federal agencies and government contractors, the uncertainty of payment will soon become a substantial hardship which will have a ripple effect across the property management industry.”
Destination DC, the organization tasked with marketing DC as a travel destination, has been trying to encourage travel to the capital with its “DC is Open” campaign. But Destination DC president and CEO Elliot Ferguson said every day the federal government stays closed makes that harder.
“The reality is that the longer the shutdown continues, the more we have to counteract a negative perception about Washington, DC, especially globally,” Ferguson said.
Anthony Williams, chief executive officer and executive director of the Federal City Council, said the shutdown’s impacts reach far beyond the DC region.
“The national economy will lose billions of dollars as a result of this shutdown,” Williams said. “Taxpayers can no longer rely on the services—like their parks and museums—that they fund with their hard-earned dollars. Critical upkeep and maintenance can’t be completed, which leads to higher costs down the road. Food is going uninspected. Air traffic controllers and TSA employees are operating under stress without pay. The longer this shutdown lingers, the more of a threat it poses to our nation’s economy.”
The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce joined the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Central Maryland Chamber, the DC Building Industry Association, the DC Chamber of Commerce, Destination DC, the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, the Federal City Council, the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber, the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, the Mount Vernon Lee Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Prince William Chamber, and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.