CINCINNATI -- With thousands of federal employees across Ohio idled without paychecks, business leaders are getting nervous about the potential economic impact of a lengthy government shutdown.
At least 10,500 employees of either the Ohio National Guard or the state's largest military installation were sent home without pay Tuesday by the partial federal government shutdown, with more job cutbacks in federal agency and related offices in the state.
Some 8,700 civilian employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base were put on unpaid leave, for what the base estimates as a loss of $5 million a day in salaries. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, a tourism drawing card with some 1 million visitors a year, closed there Tuesday.
Restaurants, retailers, car dealers and hoteliers in suburban Fairborn near the base all would feel the pain from a prolonged shutdown, said Paul Newman, executive director of the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce. He said local businesses are dependent upon the base, whose employees eat, shop and live in the area.
"I think the great concern is the great unknown. We don't know long this could last," Newman said Wednesday. "It's a major blow."
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said he had sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to reinstate all civilian employees at Wright-Patterson, saying they provide critical support to the U.S. military.
Benjamin Johnson, spokesman of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said it had received some 1,000 initial claims for unemployment compensation from federal employees as of Wednesday morning.
Other immediate impacts ranged from a hot dog vendor outside the downtown Cincinnati federal building reporting fewer customers to a Cleveland-based tour operator worried about students' Washington trips to uncertainty about an upcoming marathon run in northeast Ohio. The closure of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park could result in postponement of the Oct. 13 Towpath Marathon, expected to draw thousands of runners and spectators to the area between Akron and Cleveland.
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