Facing lagging tourism and a bleak economy, Colonial Williamsburg has decided to eliminate 140 positions to create a more affordable operation. CW currently employs approximately 3,000 people.
As of press time, not all 140 employees had been notified.
A $20 million budget reduction has forced the foundation to lay off employees.
Ticket sales this year have also declined dramatically, although the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will not release its actual visitation numbers until the end of the year.
“Many of the employees laid off don’t live in the city of Williamsburg, so the economic impact in that regard should not be too significant,” President and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Colin Campbell said. Campbell is also a member of the College of William and Mary’s Board of Visitors.
The greatest concern over the declining attendance lies with local businesses not associated with the foundation.
“Our visitors stay in our facilities, but stay in surrounding facilities as well. They shop in our stores, but shop in Merchants Square too,” Campbell said. “Their decline in revenue is the greatest worry.”
Michele DeWitt, the manager of Williamsburg’s Office of Economic Development, said that every job eliminated will have a ripple effect on the city. The OED is prepared to help those in need through providing services such as job search counseling and entrepreneurial development counseling.
“I speak for the entire city when I say our hearts go out to each of those laid off,” DeWitt said. “They are our neighbors, and we are here to help them through the difficult financial transition.”
DeWitt said the best thing Williamsburg residents and students can do to bolster the local economy is stay in Williamsburg.
“If you want to help stimulate your city’s economy at this point, when you go out to shop and eat, shop and eat in Williamsburg,” DeWitt said.
Despite the layoffs, Campbell said that holiday traditions, such as the Grand Illumination, will still take place.
“We have the entire program for the holidays still in place until the end of the year. We do not anticipate a measurable impact on guest numbers this coming season,” Campbell said. “Expect our yearly activities to still occur despite the changes.”