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UArizona enrollment boost leads to local business boost

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 10:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - For the first time in more than a year, all students are allowed back at the University of Arizona campus.

That includes the largest freshman class ever, and local business owners say the enrollment boom could lead to a business boom.

″I’d say this is the best weekend we’ve had in our 12 year history,” Shane Barela, owner of The Scented Leaf said.

Locally owned business are rejoicing after the return to full in-person learning for students at university.

This incoming freshman class brings in more than 8,700 students, breaking the record for the biggest class which was set back in 2015.

With that boost in enrollment, it’s also leading to boost for businesses in the area. Some owners say they are seeing customers come in at pre-pandemic levels.

″We had a huge influx of people, parents and students over the past few days. It’s been amazing. It kind of reminds me of over the years like in 2017 and 2018. So it’s been a while since we’ve seen this many people and this many people out and about buying and really helping out local businesses,” Barela said.

COVID cases are still on the rise. business owners are taking precautions to keep employees and customers safe.

″The majority of the staff is vaccinated and we’re all in masks right now. There’s always going to be a concern, so we do our best.” Richard Fifer, the owner of Gentle Ben’s, said.

Fifer adds that workers are still having to play catch up after the summer and he hopes this trend of business from the university will continue throughout the semester.

″Move-ins have been going on the last two weeks and business has been a huge increase from what it has been. With COVID affecting last year, we weren’t really sure what to expect this year, but numbers were good. We’re busy – even busier than we thought we were going to be,” Fifer said.

Fifer also says they don’t have enough employees for the amount of customers they have coming in. They have signs around the restaurant warning customers there may be a longer wait time because of it.

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