Local businesses and military feel effects of federal impasse, but most are back to work in Aurora

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At Buckley Air Force Base, the roughly 400 employees furloughed last week because of the government shutdown are back on the job.

The base’s commissary is up and running again, too, said 2nd Lt. Trevor Zakrzewski, a spokesman for Air Force’s 460th Space Wing.

“For the most part, things are back to normal,” Zakrzewski said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel answers question aboard the USS Stethem DDG 63 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, a U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, outside of Tokyo on Friday Oct. 4, 2013. After speaking to sailors on the guided missile destroyer, Hagel is returning to Washington, completing his trip to South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel answers question aboard the USS Stethem DDG 63 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, a U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, outside of Tokyo on Friday Oct. 4, 2013. After speaking to sailors on the guided missile destroyer, Hagel is returning to Washington, completing his trip to South Korea and Japan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Civilian workers — of which Buckley has more than 500, the bulk of which were furloughed for at least a day last week — have some work to catch up on, Zakrzewski said, but otherwise the base is again fully staffed.

Still, while life is returning to normal at Buckley after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the bulk of the furloughed civilians to return to work, local business leaders say the shutdown has been a pain for local businesses, particularly those that work closely with the federal government at facilities like Buckley.

Kevin Hougen, president of the Aurora Chamber, said local businesses have felt the effects of the shutdown.

“We definitely have seen it,” he said. “We saw some of the hotels immediately lose some contracts that were for conferences and conventions.”

The hotels hope to reschedule those events once the impasse ends, Hougen said.

With the shutdown still in full swing and some employees returning to work while others are still furloughed, Hougen said it will be a while before the exact impact of the shutdown is clear.

“Percentage wise it’s a little early to tell but it’s starting to effect people throughout the community,” he said.

Some businesses, particularly government contractors, have immediate concerns because the government offices that are supposed to cut them a check are closed and they don’t know when they will be paid, he said.

“It’s a cash-flow problem more than anything with them,” he said.

In part because the city is home to Buckley, Aurora has several aerospace companies that work closely with the Department of Defense, pumping millions into the local economy every year.

At least one of those firms, Lockheed-Martin, announced last week that it was furloughing 3,000 workers around the country, with the bulk of those being employees who work near Washington, D.C.

After Hagel deemed many civilian workers essential and ordered them back to work, Lockheed said in a statement that it had scaled back the furloughs to about 2,000 employees.

“We continue to urge Congress and the Administration to come to an agreement that funds the government as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.

The company has more than 600 employees in Aurora, but it’s unclear if any local Lockheed workers were out of a job due to the shutdown. A Lockheed spokesman did not return calls for comment this week.

Dick Hinson, vice president of the Aurora Economic Development Council, said the shutdown is likely stinging some of the smaller civilian contractors in Aurora, but they are reluctant to comment on the shutdown’s impact.

“They have more of a tendency to bite their lip, and not say anything,” Hinson said. “But it’s tough on them.”

The shutdown also has a noticeable spill over effect on smaller businesses, he said, whose customer base is made up largely of government employees, a customer base that isn’t receiving a paycheck at the moment.

“Anytime that you stop the flow of income into an area it’s definitely going to hurt not only the businesses that are directly effected, but also the support businesses,” he said. “You don’t have that money coming in so everybody is kind of holding onto the money that they have.”

On Oct. 8, eight days into the shutdown, President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives appeared to be inching closer toward a broader budget deal, but the two sides remain far enough apart that there was no end to the shutdown in sight.

The events unfolded as the stock market sank for the second day in a row. And in the latest in a string of dire warnings, the International Monetary Fund said failure to raise the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit later this month could lead to a U.S. government default that might disrupt global financial markets, raise interest rates and push the U.S economy back into recession.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.