Businesses have suffered in Colorado college towns the hardest. Those who once had so much business that they had to outsource it to others, can barely get by due to the lack of business. Since May, one shop in the Campus West area saw sales drop by 80%. Without the students attending Colorado State University, it hasn’t proven beneficial to keep the doors of most businesses open since there is no one to use or buy their services. Without students or their family visiting and no graduations, the businesses have suffered tremendously.
Since the city of Fort Collins receives a portion of sales tax revenue, it has also suffered right along with many of the merchants in the college areas. Since there is so much uncertainty about whether or not the students will return to campus, there is no way of knowing how the economy in these areas will hold up. A lot will depend on whether there will be another COVID-19 surge in cases and whether or not students will be forced to resume classes online this fall.
The coronavirus has undoubtedly turned lives upside down. People have suffered as a result; businesses have suffered. The cities of Greeley, Boulder, and Fort Collins used to have a thriving and bustling entertainment and restaurant scene. When the University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado-Boulder, and CSU students were dismissed in March, the economy in their cities have suffered tremendously.
The cities had a combined university student population of roughly 83,000. Since those students have not returned to classes. Sales taxes in April have dropped more than 21% from the previous year. Although not every city in Colorado has suffered, they too have seen a significant economic downturn. Loveland saw a reduction in sales taxes of only 11.3%, with Longmont only falling to 12.1%. Although these are all significant losses, they are not as much as those experienced in the college towns.
A diverse economy that a university is capable of offering is usually a good thing. However, when at least 16% of the town's population suddenly leaves the marketplace, this means that thousands of students are not there to spend money in the local stores, shopping for goods and services, or ordering takeout from nearby restaurants.
Unfortunately, the restaurants and bars that are in and near these college towns receiving the biggest shock due to the sudden closures and lack of business. Unfortunately, many will not and cannot survive the current pandemic.
Even though the exact amount of students who had to leave is unknown, it was a large enough number of them that the economy shifted quickly and without warning. There has been a sharp decline in student enrollment, even for remote classes.
Many cities in Colorado have a mix of businesses that contribute to their economy, unfortunately, those cities that are primarily made up of students, have suffered the most. There is no ‘business as usual’ in a small college town, at least; not for now.