The West Bowl Expansion has been marketed as an economic development project that will
help drive the region’s economy forward. But this project is BAD economic development.
• First and foremost, the West Bowl Expansion with corresponding resort sprawl will definitively link the bulk of our region’s economy to one declining industry.
According to a prominent industry trade group, the number of skiers each season has declined dramatically since the 2009/2010 season. The total number of alpine skiers has fallen by almost 2 million participants – almost 20% in five years. (1)
Online equipment and apparel retailers – which pull monies from local economies – have made consistent gains in market share every year since 2007/08. Total market share has nearly doubled since that time. (2)
And climate change threatens to topple the industry entirely. Warmer temperatures mean less snow days and more snowmaking, leading to higher operations costs and, therefore, higher ticket prices.
But that’s not all. “Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found evidence of a psychological “backyard” effect: City dwellers are less inclined to drive somewhere to ski when there’s no snow in their own neighborhood. This could have serious implications for ski areas that rely on daytrip traffic from feeder cities like Boston and New York.” (3)
• The Mount Sunapee Draft Decision states that DRED anticipates over $1 million in additional wages because of the West Bowl Expansion. Some wages may go to construction and development-related jobs, which are temporary and may do little for the local economy if outside firms are hired.
The bulk of long-term employment opportunities will be low-wage, part-time and seasonal positions. Good economic development emphasizes sustainable employment, not low-paying service industry jobs.
• A major challenge facing New Hampshire is the attraction and retention of young professionals. This expansion plan does nothing to attract young people to the area and may negatively impact the ability to market our region to millennials.
Consider: In their report on millennial preferences, the Nielsen Company noted that this generation puts a premium on “authenticity, tied to localism and regional pride” when they spend money. (4)
Creating a resort community is the opposite of creating an authentic, sustainable economy designed to attract young people.
(4) The Nielsen Company, Millennials: Breaking the Myths.