What is a college town without colleges? It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on Ithaca’s economy, especially when such a large part of the student population did not return in the beginning of the academic year. Many businesses were forced to close, and others have been forced to restructure.
Undergraduate students make up approximately 21% of the population of Tompkins County. Because they are part of the community and utilize its resources for most of the year, they have an obligation to support it. Part of this can be done by being intentional when deciding where to shop and choosing to support local shops and restaurants.
Though college students are only in the area for a limited time, Ithaca is still a home for us. The businesses within the community play a large role in creating the Ithaca we know and love. The Commons would not be The Commons if it were not for the incredible people and businesses.
As small businesses suffer, Ithaca College has only challenged the economy further by proposing to fire over 100 faculty members. Many of these employees at the college who will lose their jobs will unfortunately need to move out of the area, meaning that there may be an even more adverse impact on the economy. Clearly the college is not changing its course, but what is in our power is to support small businesses.
Luckily, being back on campus provides students, staff and faculty the opportunity to help local businesses. It is undoubtedly disappointing that there is no weeklong spring break this year for students to either return home or go on vacation. However, it is important for students to see these days as opportunities to engage further with the local Ithaca community.
With the ongoing pandemic, we are provided a unique opportunity to invest in the community. It is a perfect time to engage, explore and try new places. The next time you go to order on Amazon, consider heading downtown to support a local business instead.