ITHACA (WBNG) — Businesses in Ithaca are bracing for the possibility of less students in town this fall after Ithaca College announced over the weekend that they wouldn’t be allowing students from states on New York’s travel ban list to take classes on campus this fall. Some say students returning could be risky for business as well.
Gregor Brous owns Ithaca Bakery and Collegetown Bagels, two staples among college students in Ithaca, which is also home to Cornell University.
Brous says commerce in Ithaca revolves around the two colleges and the people they draw into the community. He says businesses like his are concerned about the prospect of less students in town this fall.
“Our vibrant town is a ghost town if there’s nobody here from either of the campuses,” he says. “It’s a scary proposition if we have no one here then our business suffers dramatically and our business suffers for years to come.”
Lou Cassaniti has been selling street food on the Ithaca Commons for 24 years.
“We’re optimistic that we’ll get through this. It’s gonna be tough, business is way down but we’ll accept it,” he says.
Cassaniti stresses that it’s more than just students that keep the economy going.
“It’s the faculty, the staff, the tourists and the parents so it’s cumulative,” he says.
Brous says while he’s concerned about the lack of students, he’s also concerned about what more students could mean as well.
“If they come here and the COVID spikes and it gets much worse, who knows they could close restaurants down again, and they could close the schools down again,” he says.
That’s why he says he’s hoping the schools will make the right calls.
“We’re really relying on Cornell and Ithaca College to have good procedures and to work with us and the community and the towns and the establishments to come up with methods that really work and protect us,” he says.