CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s one of the city’s biggest conventions of the year, and now, because of coronavirus concerns, it’s been cancelled.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole takes a look at the domino effect on the economy and adds up the losses for local businesses both small and large.
Yianni Theoharis owns four usually busy restaurants that stretch from Greek Town to McCormick place.
“They’re not going to come here. I only have three tables inside,” Theoharis said. “It’s not nuclear physics to see it.”
Though some still buzz with customers, he’s already seen about a 25% drop in business at all of them this past week.
“I am going to have a lot of empty seats, I tell you that right now,” Theoharis said.
The cancellation of one of the city’s busiest conventions adds to his worries. He admits it’ll make an impact.
“Of course I am it’s my bread and butter,” Theoharis said.
The Inspired Home Show pumps $77 million dollars into the local economy. Its Rosemont-based organizers decided to pull the plug Monday night.
“It was incredibly difficult. We went back and forth for at least the past couple of weeks,” said Leana Salamah of the Inspired Home Show.
Many exhibiting companies, about a third international, were already announcing corporate travel bans because of coronavirus precautions.
“What it came down to was it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” Salamah said.
Gone from the local economy now, the $6,000 paid by two thousand exhibitors to rent, build and staff the average booth. The convention’s 52,000 attendees typically spend $2,000 each on hotels, meals and taxis – and that’s gone too.
And at the show’s headquarters, where they’re packing up products they hoped to exhibit, about 40 seasonal workers are out of a job. In a not-so-crowded dining room, Theoharis runs through the frustrating particulars.
“If it keeps going like this we will probably have to lay off people. Instead of five waiters per shift you will have three waiters per shift,” Theoharis lamented.
Trade shows across the county, from California to New York, have been cancelled in the past few days.
Managers at McCormick Place said they have been in touch with all the major shows booked through the end of the year. For now, all are planning to continue. They also acknowledged those plans may change.
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