SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - The lame duck session has allowed lawmakers to discuss key issues in person for the first time in almost a year, but it has also given a boost to Springfield's economy.

Amy Beadle, with Springfield's Convention and Visitors Bureau, said tourism is a driving force behind many economies throughout Illinois. She said the impact COVID-19 has had on tourism in the capitol city has been devastating.

"For Springfield, [tourism] represents somewhere between $9 million and $10 million in tax revenue in a normal year," Beadle said. "The impact from COVID has been massive, moreso than I ever thought I'd see in my 30 years of doing this."

According to Beadle, downtown Springfield has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Beadle said the area thrives not only on tourism, but from hundreds of lawmakers traveling to the capitol.

"It's in the millions of what that means to Springfield and the economy of the city," Beadle said. "Even a small week, like this week, has been helpful."

This marks the first session lawmakers have had in nearly nine months. Even though the span of days for the lame duck session is short, the owner of Cafe Moxo, Mark Forinash, said its impact has already been felt.

"Anytime you get more people downtown, whether it's at the BOS Center or whether it's at the capitol, we see a little bit of a bump in sales," Forinash said. "It's not normally the bump we've experienced in years past with them being in session."

But right now, Forinash said any boost is a good one.

"Whenever you see an extra dollar go through the register, it certainly makes you hopeful," Forinash said. "You start to think holy cow, could this maybe be the beginning of turning things around?"

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