State Senator James L. Seward said today the state senate is looking at ways to assist businesses hurt by the lack of activity at the state's ski resorts.
Area ski resorts like Hunter and Windham Mountain and tourism-related businesses that support them are feeling the pinch of lack of snow and skiers, Seward said. The lack of snow has dampened the snowmobiling rush also, Seward said, and retailers, hoteliers and restaurants are suffering.
"The drop in tourism and visitors to Greene County is significant, and it's affecting local businesses," Seward said. "In addition, it's going to depress the county's sales tax receipts.
"While we can't do anything about the weather except talk about it, we can look at how the state might be able to assist in other ways."
Seward said that several upstate senators had formed a working team to assess the situation and identify possible solutions. Seward and the other senators met with ski resort owners in Albany to discuss the situation on January 9. Dan Frank of Windham Mountain and Russ Coloton of Hunter Mountain both attended. Seward said the group would reconvene the week of the 22nd to meet with the governor's office.
"One thing we're exploring is the possibility of a economic disaster declaration by the governor, which would trigger the availability of small business assistance," Seward said. "We want the governor to know how serious the situation is, not just for the ski resorts and their employees, but for the hundreds of business owners and employees from gas stations to motels that cater to skiers and winter outdoor enthusiasts. We hope to brainstorm other ideas as well.
"In areas like Greene County, skiing is a significant business and has a big impact on the local economy. We have to make sure that our local businesses survive this year for the sake of the workers they employ, the taxes they pay, and the business activity they generate," Seward concluded.