Government shutdown will impact local businesses

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- For the first time in 17 years, the United States government has shut down.

The shutdown started at 12:01 a.m. eastern time Tuesday. 

Not only will the shutdown cause furloughs for some 800,000 federal employees (about a quarter of the government’s 3.3 million workers), but it could also have an impact on the economy still in recovery and partially dependent on federal dollars and contracts.

As the shutdown deadline loomed on Monday afternoon, Ian Wist watched several pallets of toilet paper being loaded up for delivery to Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona. The military base is one of several vital government contracts held by Tempe Based Wist,an office products company.

“I’ll use the word substantial,” Wist said of the impact a shutdown will have on his business. “Have we tallied up those dollars yet? Quite frankly, no, I thought [Congress] would have figured this out by now.”

So far this year, Wist has done $250,000 worth of business with the federal government. The shutdown will pinch the company’s cash flow.

“We have particular people who work with the federal government, people in customer service and in sales. We have drivers who work and deliver to specifically government accounts,” said Wist.

Also on Monday, just hours before the shutdown, Governor Jan Brewer met with her cabinet to discuss ways the impact of the federal shutdown can be eased at the state level. Although Brewer didn’t give specifics of what was talked about, she did use the moment to blast all parties involved in Washington, D.C.

“What we are seeing and embarking upon is very frustrating to say the least,” said Governor Brewer.  “It is very unfortunate that our Congress and our president can't do the job they were hired to do.”

Brewer did say there are no plans to use state workers as a replacement for federal workers in order to avoid shutting down Arizona’s iconic national park: the Grand Canyon.

“I don't know if the Grand Canyon is a priority for the State of Arizona. We have a lot of other priorities out there,” said Brewer, citing National Guard members and children.

Meanwhile, those with business at the federal level will keep watching, waiting and hoping that House Republicans and Senate Democrats can find a way to break the impasse.

“Quite honestly, to a degree, you really have faith in folks that are elected officials to figure things out.  The country's founded on compromise and that's really what the rest of us expect,” said Wist.