RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens announced it will have to lay off more than 80% of its workforce within two months. The company is one of a growing number of companies forced to make tough choices right now.
Nearly 90 people are expected to lose their jobs, and that’s because the gardens were forced to close its doors last month and since that time, the money isn’t coming in to keep them there.
"The gardens are at its peak and its beautiful out there,” said spokesperson Beth Monroe. It's why so many come here. "With all of our tulips in bloom, this would be perhaps one of our busiest times as far as visitation goes."
But no one’s coming right now due to the need for social distancing. It hasn’t been a month since the gardens closed, but it’s hurting business to the point that workers will have to be let go.
"In these times we can't come together and say those farewells and give those hugs. That makes it extremely hard because we have great respect for our colleagues and this is through no fault of their own. It's through the economic conditions,” Monroe added.
It’s one of several organizations having to do the same. Chesterfield County announced Tuesday around 500 of its employees will no longer report to work as of this weekend, mainly impacting staff at libraries and in parks and recreation. Bon Secours is furloughing 700 employees across seven different states, including Virginia. The company owns St. Francis, St. Mary’s and Southside Regional hospitals.
Officials at the gardens are applying for a federal loan right now. If they get that money, they say the cuts won’t have to be so severe.
“We are hopeful that we may be able to get some funds that way but we don’t want to rely on that because we don’t know,” Monroe said.
The small number of people who will keep their jobs will be required to take pay cuts. The goal is to make sure Lewis Ginter can one day return to normal.
"We feel like people are going to really need a place like this garden,” she said.
Virginia has stopped evictions temporarily to give time for unemployment benefits and federal stimulus checks to arrive. But there is growing concern that rent will still be due for many in the near future before many companies are up and running again.
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