URBANA — The Urbana Business Association is shutting down at the end of the month.
This may mean the end of the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival that it organized, at least for now, Chairwoman Tina Stover said.
“We are closed permanently. The UBA will not be resurfacing again,” she said. “However, the city of Urbana may take up the mantle with the sweet corn festival, with private organizations as well.”
She blamed the pandemic, which canceled many of the group’s revenue generators, and a reduction in city funding.
“Our city funding got cut, and then, of course, all of our major events ... the sweet corn festival, the Uncork Urbana Wine Festival, all of our festivals. They’re a major part of our revenue stream,” Stover said.
The festival was held virtually last summer.
While the agency got some federal COVID-19 relief funding, Stover said it was “just a small amount” and that “it was hard enough to get that.”
Stover also said the pandemic hurt membership in the association.
“With many businesses closed, membership dwindled because people lost their businesses during the pandemic,” she said.
In November, the Urbana City Council gave the association half of what it originally budgeted for the fiscal year.
The city also hired the association’s executive director and took on some of the support services it provided.
“We were hoping to be able to serve the community longer and be able to have new established programs,” Stover said. “Our hearts are saddened that the pandemic forced us to do this. It was not an easy decision whatsoever.”