Press-Republican

November 19, 2012

Chamber seeks tourism boost through ROOST

DENISE RAYMO
Press-Republican

MALONE — The Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce is seeking $25,000 from Franklin County to help raise its profile to potential tourists.

Craig Stevens, chamber executive director, said the agency is returning to its roots — supporting member businesses — and wants to turn over its marketing arm to the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), based in Essex County.

He said every $1 spent by the county could see a return of at least $30 in the first year of a three-year plan, a $45 return in the second year and a $60 return in the third year.

It makes sense to partner with ROOST, Stevens said, because it has a world-class reputation for promoting Essex County, Lake Placid and its Olympic heritage.

He said that same expertise could be applied to Saranac Lake, which is situated half in Essex County and half in Franklin County.

It would cost $85,000 a year for an entire promotional plan, Stevens said.

REGIONAL APPROACH

The Saranac Lake Chamber receives about $20,000 of the $75,000 Essex County generates in bed-tax revenue from village lodgings situated in Franklin County.

Franklin County is pursuing permission to create a bed tax of its own, and Clinton and Essex counties already charge a 3-percent fee on overnight lodgings.

The chamber would use some of its bed-tax money for promotion and has asked Franklin County for $25,000, while the Village of Saranac Lake is asked to give $20,000.

Another $20,000 would come from the Town of Harrietstown, and $20,000 would be generated from private groups and donations, according to the plan.

Stevens said the money would fund at least one or maybe 1½ new positions at ROOST and that the person hired would be dedicated to promoting and marketing Saranac Lake.

Ron Keough, a member of the Harrietstown Town Council, urged legislators to view the idea in the same way Essex and Franklin counties share sponsorship of North Country Community College or the regional approach taken to promote the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, which also benefited outlying communities beyond Lake Placid.

“I believe the two counties should move forward on this,” he said.

TUPPER LEFT OUT

But Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake), who is also mayor in the Village of Tupper Lake, questioned why his community was left out of a tourism plan billed as a Tri-Lakes effort when it involves just two lake communities, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.

Harrietstown Town Councilwoman Nicole Meyette said Tupper would be brought in later, once the plan is successful and can be expanded.

“If you start too big, more problems are likely to happen,” she said.

Stevens agreed, saying the shared border with Essex County makes it easier to start the exclusive effort in Saranac Lake.

Franklin County has $216,765 in its 2013 tourism budget, with much of it used as matching funds to state tourism dollars on advertising and promotion in metropolitan areas of North America.

But also proposed are: $25,000 for a St. Lawrence County-based program called FISHCAP, which is promoting world-class fishing events in the region; $25,000 for a grant writer/consultant; and $25,000 for development of agri-tourism opportunities. 

Legislators have not adopted a budget yet but may at their next regular meeting on Dec. 6.

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@pressrepublican.com

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TRACKING TOURISM

his is the final story in a three-part series on Franklin County's efforts to bring in more tourism dollars.