COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Tuesday, members of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce met with leaders at Benedict College, The University of South Carolina (USC) and Midlands Technical College (MTC) to discuss the economic impact the coronavirus is having on their campuses and the greater Columbia community.
"The things that you hear about all the time, the sanitizers, the signage and all those kinds of things, you know, they come with a price tag," MTC President Dr. Ronald Rhames said, "and so the cost in terms of the budget is definitely an increase."
As each of the campuses work to adjust to new safety protocols, the cost to some has been high.
"The impact has been swift and it has been quite severe on Benedict College's bottom line," Benedict President Dr. Roslyn Artis said.
The small, private institution has decreased student housing by 50% to help guard against the virus, according to Artis.
"That represents about a 3.5 million dollar loss per semester starting with this fall on a 50 million dollar budget," Artis said.
Each of the campuses contribute millions of dollars each year to the local economy with USC, the largest of the bunch, contributing the greatest.
"Here in Columbia, we estimate that it's about 4.1 billion and that's based on years previous," USC Chief of Staff Mark Bieger said.
Each say flexibility will be key when returning in the fall and ask the public to help curb the spread of the virus by wearing masks and practicing social distancing to help decrease the burden.