Chamber CEO: SRR furloughs will have $500,000 impact per day

News 12 First at Five / Friday, Oct. 4, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- At her home decor and fabric store in South Aiken, Katy Lipscomb is worried.

"Well, I love what I do every day. I'm just not sure I love the environment I do it in anymore," says the proprietor of Material Things. "When I see the newspaper headlines that say 'Furloughed' or 'Lay-offs' or whatever, my mother calls me. I'm like, 'I know, Mom. I know.'"

On Thursday, the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management announced 1,400 SRR workers are furloughed until further notice.

"A furlough is an involuntary unpaid leave of absence for full service employees in full work week increments or reduced work schedules," the DOE-EM release read. "About 360 employees will remain to maintain facilities in a safe, non-operating mode."

Lipscomb's business is bracing for what could be a very trying time. As the federal government remain shut down, thousands more could be furloughed at Savannah River Site too.

"Just the whole cumulative effect. It definitely affects business," she says.

"We have a huge dependency on federally funded jobs in the CSRA," adds Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce President J. David Jameson.

Jameson admits that he's concerned too. Savanna River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the largest contractor on site, has yet to make a furlough announcement.

"Of what was announced [Thursday] is a half-a-million-dollars a day economic impact to the CSRA," says Jameson.

In a community dominated by small businesses, Jameson says that number, which will likely grow even greater, could be brutal.

"Yes, it's affecting me. It's been affecting me," says Lipscomb, who says she definitely has no plans to hire.

Lipscomb doesn't know what the impact will be, but she's hoping a fix will come.

"It's just a confidence level thing. You know, it's just another instance of the confidence level going down. How low can the confidence go down before you just say uncle," she says.

Again, besides SRR, the other five SRS contractors have yet to make furlough announcements.

A recent Washington Post graph lists the Aiken/Augusta area as number eight on a list of metro areas throughout the country with the most military and federal workers. They account for 9.1% of all workers.

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