Atlantic Cities

Who Profits During a Government Shutdown?

Who Profits During a Government Shutdown?
Associated Press

While the ongoing government shutdown has eliminated Americans' access to vital programs and national parks and monuments, some private industries stand to profit from the voids opened up by the shutdown. So who's getting the most out of less government?

Private Museums

NPR reports that private museums, especially those in the D.C. area, are seeing a jump in visitor numbers due to the shutdown of government institutions like the Smithsonian. The International Spy Museum, The National Geographic Museum, and The National Building Museum all claimed increased attendance, and one person interviewed even spoke of heading over to the wax uncanny valley of Madame Tussaud's.

Playing second fiddle and substitution to places like the Air and Space Museum might not be sustainable in the long run though, as a spokesman for the International Spy Museum acknowledged.

D.C. Restaurants and Bars

In addition to the shutdown parties held by federal employees, The New York Times reports that:

Many bars, restaurants and clubs in Washington and elsewhere were also taking advantage of the shutdown with extended hours and discounts for furloughed federal employees.

Capitol Lounge, a popular after-work spot on Pennsylvania Avenue, was giving away beer to any patron with a government ID on Tuesday (quite a deal along with the already existing 25-cent wing special).

The Washington City Paper is keeping an updated list of local specials for furloughed employees. Other large chains like AMC Theaters is also seizing the opportunity, offering free popcorn to federal employees.

Alexandria, Virginia

NPR again:

The Alexandria Visitors Center reported a 30 percent increase in day traffic Wednesday, boosting business at local restaurants and shops.

Alexandria hotels, on the other hand, are already taking a hit as cancellations roll in, says a spokeswoman for the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association.

Private Space Flights

While NASA is on break, the two American astronauts in the International Space Station are still on duty, as is a skeleton crew at Mission Control. But private space firms are up and running, and as recently as this sunday SpaceX launched a new rocket and a Cygnus capsule from Orbital Sciences docked with the ISS. Although both firms received subsidies from the government's Commercial Orbital Transport Services (COTS) program, they are not subject to the shutdown.

Meanwhile, NASA twiddles its thumbs, hoping that the shutdown ends so that they can rev up again in time for a 20-day period during which they can launch, which runs from Nov. 18 to Dec. 7. The next window won't come until 2016.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.

Brian Feldman writes for The Atlantic Wire. All posts »

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