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Could coronavirus impact the Central Texas economy?

Posted at 10:22 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 23:22:15-05

Events like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Spring at the Silos bring big bucks to Central Texas.

"You've got Spring at the Silos that has about 70,000 visitors. We've got the Texas Food Truck Showdown that's about 25-thousand, and then we have just the normal visitation of thousands of visitors. So we expect some people to come up from South by Southwest," said Carla Pendergraft, Director of Marketing for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

However, as concerns around coronavirus continue to spread, large events like these are at risk of being shutdown, with corporate players pulling out at the last minute. Companies like Netflix, Apple, Twitter and more have already pulled out of SXSW appearances over coronavirus fears.

"Right now, there is no evidence that closing South by Southwest or other activities is going to make this community safer," explained Dr. Mark Escott of Austin Public Health.

Waco business owners agreed. They are confident that fear of the coronavirus won't hit them where it hurts - at the register.

"I think there's a lot of people who have already booked their types of trips here, and they've invested already the time and the energy to plan it out, but I also think too we're going to see an influx of people, a lot of locals in the area," said Mike Brock, owner of White Elephant.

"I think people really love Magnolia a lot, and I think they will come regardless," added Waco Cha tea truck owner Devin Li.

25 News reached out to the Magnolia team and in regards to Spring at the Silos. They shared this statement:

“We continue to closely monitor the public health developments throughout the region, and we are working closely with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure the health and safety of this community and all who come to visit. Strictly out of an abundance of caution, Magnolia is in the process of implementing the following precautions on-site: Providing stand-alone hand sanitizers for use throughout the day; An increase in scheduled site cleanings and sanitizations on high-target areas such as door handles, toilets and flush handles, sink handles, railings, push bars, utensils and stanchions. It is important to emphasize that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain the immediate health risk to the United States public is low, and equally as important to note that no state health departments have requested the cancellation of any gatherings as the current risk of person-to-person spread in their jurisdictions remains quite low. At this time, we are planning to move forward with next week’s Spring at the Silos event as scheduled.”