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March 11, 2014

Great Lakes county piloting recreation and tourism Business Retention and Expansion program

Oswego, NY – New York Sea Grant (NYSG) and SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations are launching a Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Program to evaluate the local business climate and to assist existing recreation and tourism businesses with expansion in Oswego County. Over the next several weeks, nearly 600 recreation and tourism businesses in Oswego County will have an opportunity to help local and county leaders and residents better understand the issues facing locally-owned businesses in today’s economy.

“Our goal is to increase communication between businesses and local and county governments,” said Mary Penney, Coastal Community Development Specialist for New York Sea Grant. “Existing businesses create up to 86 percent of all new jobs, so it’s important to examine the needs of those locally-owned businesses already committed to Oswego County.”

“New York Sea Grant has been working with coastal businesses for decades. This pilot program in Oswego County will help us to understand how these businesses see the challenges ahead and advise us and our partners on how to design programs to effectively meet those challenges,” says New York Sea Grant Interim Director William Wise.

The Oswego County Recreation and Tourism BR&E Task Force includes representatives from diverse segments of the economy, including the business, government, tourism, and planning sectors.

The Task Force developed the survey to assess the status and need for workforce training and professional development by business owners and the overall condition and characteristics of the Oswego County recreation and tourism business community.

The survey questions range from identifying hours of operation and number of employees to any expansion and renovation plans and the products and services they anticipate their customers will need in the next 5-10 years.

Business owners will also have the opportunity to rank the value of a variety of community services, such as day care, public restrooms, and signage; and to identify business sector trends, such as changing vacation patterns and increasing minimum wage, that may impact positively or negatively impact their Oswego County-based enterprises.

The Oswego County Recreation and Tourism BR&E Program survey packets will be mailed in mid-March. Recreation and business owners in Oswego County who wish to participate in the survey and do not receive a survey packet in the mail by the end of March may contact New York Sea Grant at 315-312-3042 to request a survey.

The survey packets will include a paper copy and a link to an electronic version of the survey. Project leaders prefer responses by electronic reply whenever possible.

Survey responses will be collected through May 12, 2014.

“I encourage the businesses who receive a survey to complete it and return it by May 12,” Chena Tucker, an Assistant Project Manager with the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Public Relations, said. “The more information we receive, the more complete our business picture will be.”

The survey data will be tabulated and examined for ways to assist recreation and tourism businesses in Oswego County with operations and potential expansion plans.

“In the short term, we will identify immediate concerns and community services that may need improvement,” Penney said. “Ultimately, we want to address such complex issues as the skills of the local workforce and the competitiveness of Oswego County’s recreation and tourism businesses.”

The Oswego County Recreation and Tourism BR&E task force members represent the Fort Brewerton/Greater Oneida Lake Chamber of Commerce, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Tug Hill Commission, Operation Oswego County, Inc., Oswego County Promotion and Tourism, New York Sea Grant, and the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Public Relations.

New York Sea Grant is piloting and sponsoring this BR&E initiative in Oswego County with the assistance of Ohio Sea Grant. Ohio State University was involved in the original development of BR&E programming.

New York Sea Grant is part of a nationwide network of 33 university-based programs working with coastal communities through the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sea Grant research and outreach programs promote better understanding, conservation, and use of America's coastal resources. Sea Grant is funded in New York through SUNY, Cornell University and federally through NOAA.

For more information on the Oswego County Recreation and Tourism BR&E Program, go to the Coastal Communities section of the NYSG website at nyseagrant.org/ccdbusiness.

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