Bryan, College Station mayors say economic future remains unclear

BRAZOS COUNTY, Tex. (KBTX) - Researchers at Texas A&M are releasing data Thursday that will provide a first look at the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Bryan and College Station.

This report provided by Texas A&M's Private Enterprise Research Center and the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation is vital information that will help local leaders plan for the future.

The mayors of both Bryan and College Station said on Wednesday it's hard to see exactly where the economy is going as we approach the summer and fall months.

"There are still lots of questions that we still need answers to really know with any certainty just what Bryan and College Station will look like as we turn into the fall semester," said College Station Mayor Karl Mooney.

Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson says they're handling the pandemic on a week-by-week basis and focusing on what they can do now.

"In the short-term, it's restarting the economy through Operation Restart to get back to business, but not business as usual -- social distancing, but ramp up our economic output," said Mayor Nelson.

Mayor Mooney says if they can't see that the economy is going to come back at a gradual yet steady pace, they're going to have to make some decisions at the city level. He says they may have to put capital projects on hold and furlough city employees if things don't lookup.

Both agree they need more answers before they can begin planning for the future.

"We're waiting, of course, to see what Texas A&M is going to do," said Mayor Mooney.

"If Texas A&M does not have students here in the fall, that will be devastating for the local economy and so that's very clear," said Mayor Nelson.

"That means there's going to be vacancies in apartments or homes that are being rented out. That's a challenge. That means fewer people are going to buy gasoline or go to the doctor, or the grocery store, or to the movies. It has a serious economic impact," said Mayor Mooney.

Mayor Nelson says it's something the cities, the state, and the University are having to manage day-by-day and that nothing is certain at this time.

"No one is making any promises about what's happening in the fall, so we're just going to have to do the same thing we're doing today -- have a little faith, but also understand that the facts will present themselves at that time and we'll do what's best," said Mayor Nelson.

The information being provided in the "Economic Indicators of the College Station-Bryan MSA" will include the latest business-cycle index and the number of unemployment claims recorded in Bryan and College Station since the start of the pandemic.