Urbana, Ill. (WCIA) — An organization meant to help small businesses is closing on April 30th, which means a big festival in Urbana won’t be going on this summer, at least for now. The association had to close their doors because the hardships of the pandemic.
“Due to the pandemic, everyone had to take care of their own businesses. People were losing their businesses. It was traumatic for everybody,” Tina Stover, director of Urbana Business Association, said.
That left director Tina Stover and one other board member left for the Urbana Business Association, which forced them to close their doors after around 15 years of business.
“Much to our dismay we lost our funding from the city. The city had to do a drastic budget cut because of the pandemic,” Stover said.
Besides money from the city, the UBA also got a lot of money from events and memberships. With events being canceled due to the pandemic, they lost that revenue.
“Because of that and because people their businesses or shutting down their businesses there went our memberships,” Stover said.
So they were forced to close their doors, which was sad also for longtime member Lois Steinberg.
“A long time I had been part of it and I was just so shocked and saddened to see that they closed,” Steinberg said.
Besides seeing the association close, festivals the UBA used to put on will also be stopping, including Market in the Square and the Sweetcorn Festival.
“We made it very abundantly clear to them, that if you cut that funding, you may not see another Sweetcorn Festival,” Stover said.
The festival used to bring around 70,000 people to Urbana, which helped businesses and restaurants, like Iyengar Yoga.
“Yeah it is a real downer that they’re not going to be doing that,” Steinberg said.
Both Stover and Steinberg hope the UBA can return some day.
“I just hope it will maybe resurrect itself in the future,” Steinberg said.
It just may take a few years. As Stover says, it may look a bit different.
“Maybe from the seeds of something left from the UBA, something else wonderful will spring up in its place,” Stover said.
The Sweetcorn Festival was virtual last year. WCIA reached out to the City of Urbana to see if they would take over any of the UBA’s old festivals, and they did not get back to us.