MALONE - A group of Saranac Lake area officials went to the Franklin County seat last week to ask for money to help with a local tourism effort.
Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Craig Stevens, Saranac Lake village Trustee Paul Van Cott and Harrietstown town board members Ron Keough and Nichole Meyette visited a Franklin County board meeting Thursday to explain their plan.
Stevens told county legislators how the chamber had been doing some tourism marketing, but they had not been very successful with it.
From left, Harrietstown town board members Nichole Meyette and Ron Keough, Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Craig Stevens and Saranac Lake village Trustee Paul Van Cott talk to Franklin County representatives Thursday about money for a Saranac Lake tourism initiative.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
"We're working hard to make Saranac Lake a destination for tourism," Van Cott said.
He said the area has been doing a good job growing in recent years, especially when it comes to the arts.
"The piece that's missing is the marketing, and it's been missing for some time," Van Cott said.
In the recent past, the chamber's efforts have been aided by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the Lake Placid-based organization that puts Essex County's bed tax to use to aid tourism efforts. Now the chamber wants ROOST to take the lead on Saranac Lake's tourism marketing.
To do that, though, they need money. ROOST is asking for $85,000 a year for three years to implement the plan it has developed for marketing the Saranac Lake area.
"ROOST is a world-class organization," Van Cott said. "We see it as a great opportunity."
Stevens said they want Franklin County to contribute $25,000 to the effort. The village of Saranac Lake and the town of Harrietstown have already each pledged $20,000, and $20,000 is expected to come from a group of private contributors.
When legislators asked what Essex County is contributing, Stevens said that county already contributes $75,000 in bed tax money from hotels in Saranac Lake. Some of that money is set to go toward helping with the new tourism initiative.
Stevens said the return on investment is expected to be $30 brought into the Saranac Lake area for every dollar spent on marketing in the first year. That number is supposed to grow to $45 dollars in the second year and $60 in the third.
"So it's a very favorable return on investment," Stevens said. "It would be measurable."
Keough said it would present the opportunity for great regional collaboration.
Paul Maroun, who represents Tupper Lake on the Franklin County board, said he's concerned about supporting something like this if his town gets left out in the cold.
"Most of the regional things I hear are the Tri-Lakes," Maroun said. "I'm hearing Bi-Lakes."
The Saranac Lake representatives explained that the plan now is to focus on Saranac Lake, but they hope it would be able to grow and impact other areas of the county as well, starting with Tupper Lake. It's better to start out with a small program and get it stabilized than trying to start with a larger plan.
"If you start too big, there's more problems that are liable to happen," Meyette said.