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Local businesses see decline in regular 'Baylor Boom' amid pandemic

Posted at 5:33 PM, Sep 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-06 18:33:38-04

WACO, Texas — Small businesses near Baylor University have seen a dramatic uptick in revenue since students returned to campus.

But with more students learning virtually, sales are not at the same level they were this time last year.

According to a Baylor study, the university produces nearly a billion dollars in revenue to the Waco Metropolitan Area. More than a quarter of that money comes directly from student's pockets.

"I do want to support the local economy, especially because Waco is such a thriving town right now, and we are such a big part of it," Baylor student Rachel Morton said. "So, if we can do our part, I think it'll make the transition from this crazy environment a little less stressful."

Morton joined some of her friends at the Common Grounds coffee shop Sunday afternoon to study. According to a barista at the shop, 80-90% of its customers are either students or faculty at Baylor.

Over the summer, Common Grounds, and its neighbor Heritage Creamery, saw sales plummet over the summer. A combination of students leaving campus, construction and COVID-19 led to a large decline in business.

"Comparing it now to when campus was closed down, everything was quiet and dead. So having students back, it kinda just brings life back into the area," Ethan Nelson, a Common Grounds barista, said.

Experts with the Waco Chamber of Commerce said it is still too soon to tell what impact COVID-19 will have on area income this fall.

Managers at Heritage Creamery said they have not seen as many students come through their doors since the first weekend they returned.

However, several students living on campus say they are comfortable getting out and frequenting local businesses.

"There's still going to always be a little apprehension with the unknown of what's going on," Baylor student Madison Lockrem said. "But I really appreciate that Waco is working hard to make sure there are policies in place and that people are doing what they can."

Business owners say while having students back on campus will provide a needed boost, they still rely on the patronage of locals to help them stay afloat.