With the partial government shutdown dragging into a fourth week, the long lines at some security checkpoints that have disrupted American air travel have yet to hit the Redmond Airport.
“Airports our size haven’t really had the same issues,” said Airport Director Zachary Bass. “But it’s usually a trickle-down effect.”
The partial government closure — the result of an impasse over $5.7 billion to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, one of President Donald Trump’s biggest 2016 campaign promises — is now the longest on record. On Monday, it hit Day 24.
About 800,000 federal employees have been off work due to the shutdown; 28,000 of them work in Oregon.
About 1,350 federal employees work in the three counties in Central Oregon; that number tends to fall slightly in the winter, according to Damon Runberg, regional economist for the Oregon Employment Department. Roughly 300 of those employees work for the U.S. Forest Service in the Deschutes National Forest. About 40 are Transportation Security Administration employees working at Redmond Airport.
Despite not getting paid, Redmond-based TSA workers have been dutifully showing up each day without knowing when their next paychecks will come, Bass said.
“My thought is our group is maybe made up more of retirees — some individuals who might have the ability to go without a paycheck,” Bass said.
It’s not just federal workers in Central Oregon who’ve been affected. Business owners waiting for the U.S. Small Business Administration to approve loans can’t get money they need to buy real estate or expand operations.
“Borrowers and clients are just — they can’t move forward,” said Ashley Horner, vice president and SBA program administrator at Summit Bank. “I would say we are working on over a dozen deals that are adversely affected by the government shutdown.”
Those deals involve businesses in Eugene, Bend and Portland, Horner said. Summit Bank typically processes loan applications internally before submitting them to the SBA for approval. So once the SBA signs off, businesses only have to wait a week or so for the money, Horner said.
Local nonprofit organizations and businesses have offered deals and discounts to benefit affected employees.
Northwest Community Credit Union is one of the financial institutions offering to extend payment due dates or waive fees for federal workers hit by the shutdown. Mid Oregon Credit Union is offering low- and no-interest loans to affected workers.
There are also recreational opportunities available for federal employees. The High Desert Museum is offering free admission to federal workers and their immediate families. It last offered a similar deal when local schools shut down as a result of heavy snowfall in 2016. “It’s part of our mission to serve the community,” Executive Director Dana Whitelaw said.
Among other businesses, Namaspa yoga studio in Bend is offering 45-day free passes to federal employees, according to outreach coordinator Symeon North.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, firstname.lastname@example.org .
— Business editor Kathleen McLaughlin contributed to this report