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Coronavirus canceled Warren Buffett’s shareholder party. Omaha is suffering.
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Warren Buffetts “Woodstock for Capitalists” was effectively canceled this year, dealing a huge blow to Omaha’s economy.
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Each year, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s annual meeting brings tens of thousands of attendees to Nebraska’s largest city. These Berkshire acolytes flood local hotels and restaurants, and Berkshire businesses sell their wares at the convention center.
But this year, shareholders are banned from attending in a bid to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, and Mr. Buffett will speak via a live-streamed video instead. It is a significant loss for Omaha businesses. The economic impact of the meeting alone is $21.3 million, according to Visit Omaha, the city’s tourism bureau.
It is also not the only cancellation to hit Omaha.
The annual College World Series, slated for June, has been postponed until 2021, as has the U.S. Olympic swim trials. Visit Omaha estimates that event cancellations from March 1 to June 30 will cost the city’s economy $197 million.
WARREN BUFFETT AXES 'WOODSTOCK' FESTIVITIES AT BERKSHIRE'S ANNUAL MEETING
“It’s been a cascade of bad news,” says Dennis Pate, executive director and chief executive officer of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, which often hosts private parties over the weekend for Berkshire senior executives and board members, including Mr. Buffett. Mr. Pate expects the zoo to lose roughly $25,000 from event cancellations during that weekend.
Omaha isn’t alone. San Diego has canceled this year’s Comic-Con International convention; Boston has postponed its annual marathon to September. Cities across the world have been forced to cancel or postpone their marquee events due to the pandemic, each with its own unique and staggering economic toll.