South Dakota businesses are bracing for an economic impact should the shutdown drag on even longer. The town of Garretson is just down the road from the EROS Data Center, where many federal employees haven’t been able to work since the shutdown started.
The EROS Data Center serves as a warehouse for satellite images of earth that are used by researchers around the globe. But that scientific mission is largely on-hold, because of the shutdown. And businesses along Garretson’s Main Street want to see a settlement soon.
EROS workers are regular customers at the Garretson Food Center.
“We see them on a weekly basis and it would definitely impact us as a business, not to mention us, but other businesses in town,” Garretson Food Center owner Lorie Luke said.
Lori Luke says the EROS impact to her store has been minimal for now, but if the shutdown goes from weeks to months, everyone will be hurting.
“At some point, they’re going to have to move or do something else and that means moving out of town or taking their business elsewhere,” Luke said.
Many people in Garretson thought the shutdown would be over in a matter of days and the people here at EROS would be back to work again. But one week passed and there was still no settlement. Another week passed, and another and now it’s been nearly a month and there’s still no end in sight.
“I can see it going on for several months. Nothing surprises me at this point anymore,” Nordstrom’s Automotive Service Center General Manager Russ Evans said.
If the shutdown goes that long, EROS customers of Nordstrom’s Automotive Service Center might hold off getting their cars fixed.
“Let’s say you got a $500-600 repair bill. If you’re worried about your income, that can be tough,” Evans said.
Businesses say every job is important in a rural community like Garretson. The financial pain is all the more acute because many of the out-of-work EROS employees are their friends and neighbors.
“For the economy’s sake, for our morale’s sake for the citizens in all the states, everybody need to come back to normal,” Luke said.
Nordstrom’s also services much of the entire fleet of vans belonging to EROS. That’s a revenue source that’s now dried up for Nordstrom’s until the shutdown is over.
At EROS, the approximately 130 government employees make up 22-percent of the people working there, and the remaining are contractors. While government workers will get back-pay when the shutdown ends, the contractors will not,