Coronavirus outbreak impacting Minnesota jobs, businesses

As events get canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of Minnesotans are now out of work.

Concerts, sporting events, theater performances and conferences require technical production, such as lighting, audio and staging. The people who perform those jobs tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are devastated by the sudden cuts.

"I am absolutely mortified," said Nicole Fierce, who has 20 years of skilled experience as a lighting technician. "I woke up one day and the need for my career as I know it disappeared. It’s gone."

"Literally, the bottom’s dropped out," added Dan Pearson, vice president of Allied Productions and Sales in Mendota Heights.

Allied does production work for events in Minnesota and across the country, including concerts, college graduations, corporate conferences and the Minnesota State Fair.

He said they had already set up equipment at the World Cup Cross Country Ski Race in Minneapolis, which was scheduled for next week. They brought it all back to the warehouse Friday after the event was canceled.

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"How scary is this?" asked KSTP reporter Alex Jokich.

"It’s unprecedented," Pearson responded. "We are well over $1 million, I think approaching $2 million, in terms of what we’ve lost in the last four days."

Jesse Madison, of Purple Tally Productions, a local labor broker, said there are tens of thousands of people in the Twin Cities who rely on production jobs on a daily basis.

"We’ve canceled thousands of work hours over the last two days," Madison explained. "When shows go away, jobs go away. Financially speaking, that’s a little bit of a death sentence to some careers."

"I think it is a worst-case scenario," added Fierce. "I’m trying to figure out how to pay for groceries. I will not make enough money to live this month."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learned people in the events industry are asking for federal aid. They are estimating billions of dollars in losses nationwide. As of Friday afternoon, more than 40,000 people had signed this online petition to support those in the industry.