Committee picks new Lake Placid economic development director
LAKE PLACID — Adam DeSantis has been hired as Lake Placid’s economic development director by the Lake Placid and North Elba Destination Management Plan Committee Tuesday. The taxpayer-funded position was created by the committee “to direct the implementation of the Lake Placid and North Elba Destination Management Plan 2030.”
“I am incredibly excited about this opportunity,” DeSantis said in a statement Tuesday. “I’ve learned so much about the region, its incredible organizations, its challenges and its local economy that is very much rooted in tourism. I believe that my role, bringing these organizations together to solve challenges, while enticing new business to the area and keeping the visitor and local resident experience at the core of every decision, will allow the plan to realize its potential and possibly uncover additional opportunities that have yet to be conceptualized.”
DeSantis most recently served as the manager of overlay, installations, drawings and signage for the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games. Previously, he was vice president for a senior housing real estate development group in Albany.
The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism advertised the new position in early July. At the time, the starting salary was listed as $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.
DeSantis’s salary will be funded through ROOST — which is largely taxpayer-funded through its contracts with local governments — and the town of North Elba’s Community Tourism Enhancement Fund, which comes from Essex County occupancy tax revenue collected on all hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast and short-term vacation rental stays.
Since 2021, North Elba’s share of county occupancy tax revenue was distributed through the North Elba Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund, which helped to fund projects through groups such as John Brown Lives! and the Adirondack Rail Trail Association. In June, North Elba signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding with ROOST that altered the way in which the town will spend these funds moving forward. Town supervisor Derek Doty told the Enterprise in July that 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. Additionally, the town agreed to contribute $70,000 annually from this stockpile to the economic development director’s salary for the next five years. Under this new plan, Doty said LEAF grants will likely be available once per year instead of twice.
The Lake Placid and North Elba Destination Management Plan was announced by North Elba, Lake Placid and ROOST in June 2022 following a period of development and feedback. The planning process began in 2019 and included research, surveys, focus groups, workshops and reviews. The plan extends to 2030.
“It’s not a tourism solicitation or marketing program,” ROOST CEO Jim McKenna said last year. “It’s basically, how do you manage a successful tourism economy to the benefit of the community? That’s really what it is.”
The plan has six objectives: Diversify and optimize the local economy; increase long-term resident housing diversity; address environmental sustainability regionally; develop a dedicated event management strategy; align industry investments to benefit everyone and engage all local and visitor audiences.
According to ROOST, DeSantis will work on economic development initiatives such as attracting new businesses and retaining those already in the area, grant writing, helping to diversify long-term housing in the area and “developing a collaborative approach to improving the quality of life and economic opportunities for year-round residents and visitors.”
DeSantis will report to the North Elba/Lake Placid DMP Committee, which includes representatives from both the town and village as well as ROOST, the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, the Adirondack Park Agency and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority.
“The economic development director position is paramount to ensuring that the elements of the DMP are enacted; ultimately benefiting the region by ensuring sustainability for its residents, its business and its visitors,” DMP Committee co-chair Emily Kilburn Politi said in a statement Tuesday.