And so, we head into a summer like no other, with the border expected to remain largely closed to non-essential travel and with the continuing (if hopefully diminishing) impacts of the pandemic and lingering business and travel restrictions.
The impacts continue to be very uneven. While some hospitality related businesses dependent on our Canadian friends are headed for the summer of 2020 Part Two, other parts of the regional hospitality economy are enjoying a continued surge of visitation from points south. And some other sectors, such as real estate and home improvements, are breaking records and our manufacturing base is seeing growth in many cases.
And every sector, from small business to industrial, is confronting one of the tightest labor markets ever experienced — to some degree exacerbated by generous unemployment benefits and other pandemic related largesse but expected to remain daunting nationally even after these impacts.
We are continuing our strong and increasingly insistent advocacy related to the border, and we are definitely engaged in a range of efforts to help on the workforce recruitment, retention and training front — offering no silver bullets but hopefully helping in some very tangible ways.
On the summer tourism front, our Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau has crafted and launched appropriately redirected market efforts, looking to the Capital Region and other such markets to draw from the south in place of the north. And we have secured not just a few but five fishing tournaments on Lake Champlain this season, including three in July alone! This builds upon our noticed success in carrying out a major tournament safely and successfully last year in spite of the pandemic. Plus, we will again welcome the East Coast Watercross Championship on July 31-August 1.
It can and will be a good summer for most of our businesses and for the region in general. But we know for many, the impacts of the pandemic are not fully behind them, and they still require support. And some will need even more support as their Canadian customer base will not be easily replaced. We remain 100% committed to helping each and all in every way we can.
ONWARD AND UPWARD!
Garry Douglas is president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.