FREDERICKSBURG, Texas – The city of Fredericksburg usually hosts about 1.2 million visitors a year and businesses in the town really depend on those visitors.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has dealt Fredericksburg’s tourism industry a devastating blow.
The owner of the West End Pizza Company in Fredericksburg said while there are only a handful of cars outside her business, it’s been a good day.
“The locals are keeping us going and we greatly appreciate it,”said Janet Degenhardt, owner of West End Pizza Company.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way businesses operate.
“I’ve laid off 28 people. We are running with a group of eight people plus myself. We’ve reduced hours to try to compact the hours of operation to reduce our labor cost,” Degenhardt said.
Usually this time of the year, Degenhardt said the streets are filled with people.
“It’s heartbreaking. I’ve been in business over 11 years and it has never been like this,” Degenhardt said.
As companies are forced to change how they work, the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce continues to support businesses. On their website they showcase different programs available and they update the list that details the status of local businesses.
“Our primary focus at the chamber right now is to drive information to our members,” said Penny McBride, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce represents more than 900 members.
“Our mission is to promote a positive and growing environment for business so anything that can help businesses be more profitable or operate more effectively or help businesses to make connections with one another at all falls into the scope of our work, ”McBride said.
McBride said they are hosting online events to keep businesses informed.
“We’re doing an event for our members where we’re having a presentation by the Texas State demographer,” McBride said. “We’re doing a presentation on what he expects to see demographic trends changing in Texas over the next few years.”
As companies adjust to the new reality, Degenhardt believes the small town will be okay.
“I know we keep saying there’ light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know long the tunnel is, but we’ll get past it as a company. I reassure my furloughed employees that West End Pizza will survive this and thrive after this,” Degenhardt said.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
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