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Government Shutdown Bad For Business

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As lawmakers in Washington dig in their heels, local businesses are digging into their pockets.

Failure to agree on a federal budget means thousands of Fort Hood employees didn't get their mid-month paychecks Tuesday, and it's hurting the local economy.

At 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Irie Jamaican Restaurant in Harker Heights was completely empty.

Co-owner Ronny White sits in an empty booth and says, "That's not normal. I've usually got a lunch rush before two, dies down, and then it gets back up at like five, but lately, we have seen a steady flow of like one, two people coming in."

The real estate market is hurting too.

Federal furloughs mean mortgage companies can't verify tax and social security information for new buyers.

And big-time local employer Central Texas College (CTC) bears the brunt of the suspension of troops' Tuition Assistance.

"We're losing 4- to 5-million dollars of revenue that would be flowing right here into our economy," said Thomas Klincar, CTC Chancellor, as he emphasizes that the greater problem is that soldiers are being denied their educations for the time being.

Gas prices are down significantly, as fewer people take to the roads, and demand for fuel plunges.

The phones at Chemar Salon in Killeen are still ringing, but not always in a good way.

"We had people that canceled and people that just pushed it to another month, just to see if [civilian pay] will come back within a month or so," salon owner Chemar Jones said.

Meanwhile, furloughed workers pinch pennies, and so do businesses.

"We cut down on a whole bunch, vacations, and going out for dinner and stuff like that," furloughed worker Simon Ferdin told KCEN on the first day of the shutdown.

Ronny says, " I'm trying to see if I can conserve on some stuff, use what I need, the wastage, cut it down, so there's a lot of business structure I have to think about doing to stay afloat."

Reporter: Sophia Stamas sstamas@kcentv.com

Photographer: Chris Buford cbuford@kcentv.com

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