ROOST, North Elba hiring an economic development director

Mirror Lake in the village of Lake Placid is seen on June 21, the first day of summer. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — A branch of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism is searching for a full-time economic development director to help diversify the economy and housing options in Lake Placid.

The town of North Elba and the village of Lake Placid already have a community development director position, currently filled by Haley Breen. While Breen’s position was created a couple of years ago to help implement and maintain the town and village’s 2014 Comprehensive Plan, the economic development director will implement the goals of the town, village and ROOST’s Destination Management Plan created last year.

According to the economic development director job listing, the director would be tasked with recruiting businesses to relocate to or expand within the Lake Placid community; helping to boost the diversity of businesses and availability of year-round jobs and housing in the area; expanding the availability of long-term housing; applying for various grants, and economic development research and public engagement. Emily Kilburn Politi, a North Elba town councilor and co-chair of the DMP committee, said the economic development director would work closely in collaboration with Breen.

The economic development director would also facilitate business market research and find opportunities for new businesses in “target industries” to establish themselves in Lake Placid. The director would then help people to establish businesses here by providing resources on building permits, zoning laws and tax initiatives. The Comprehensive Plan is on the brink of being updated, and Kilburn Politi said that public input processes throughout the new plan’s development could give some more direction to the economic development director’s duties.

Lake Placid-Essex County Quality Destination, Inc. — or LPECQD, a nonprofit subsidiary of ROOST — is leading oversight for the economic development director search. The economic development director would primarily report to the Lake Placid-North Elba Destination Management Plan Committee, with co-chairs Kilburn Politi and Dan Kelleher — who’s also a special assistant for economic affairs at the state Adirondack Park Agency — acting as “point people.” The director would also report to LPECQD’s board of directors.

The economic development director job listing, available on the employment website Indeed at tinyurl.com/bdfzhe5m, describes the position as a “hybrid remote” job requiring some work directly within Lake Placid. Qualified candidates would ideally have three years of experience in economic development, public administration, finance, economics, business administration or an equivalent field, according to the job listing.

The director’s starting salary is advertised at $90,000 per year with benefits established by ROOST, including paid vacation and sick/personal time; group medical, dental, vision and life insurance; a 401(k); and a Health Reimbursement Account funded annually for medical care expenses and out-of-pocket costs. The director’s salary will be funded by ROOST and the town of North Elba’s Community Tourism Enhancement Fund, which comes from the town and village’s portion of the additional 2% Essex County occupancy tax — taxes collected on all hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast and short-term vacation rental stays — implemented in 2020.

The town signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding with ROOST earlier this month that changed the way the town will handle and spend the occupancy tax it receives from the county. While the town has distributed all of its occupancy funds since 2021 through the North Elba Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund — which is intended to give one-time grants to local organizations for community enhancement twice a year — the town will now “stockpile” 65 to 70% of its occupancy tax funds for town projects to benefit the community and distribute the rest through LEAF, according to town Supervisor Derek Doty. The town has agreed to annually contribute $70,000 from the town’s occupancy tax stockpile to the economic development director’s salary for the next five years.

The town and ROOST’s MOU states that the town’s occupancy tax funds will be held in a ROOST account, though Doty said the town will have complete discretion over how these funds will be spent. ROOST has coordinated the LEAF committee, which reviews and recommends applicants to the town in each LEAF grant round, since LEAF was created. With the new MOU, Doty expects the town to administer LEAF grants once per year instead of twice a year.

More than $3 million in grants has gone out to local groups through LEAF since the fund’s inception: around $1.3 million in 2021, around $1.4 million in 2022, and more than $734,000 so far this year. Another round of LEAF funding is expected to be available this year, according to Doty.


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