In Their Opinion...

Editorial: Fort Ti's huge economic impact

Fort Ticonderoga had a major impact on our nation’s history; now also have firm proof of its major impact on this region’s economy.

Fort administrators recently called local leaders in for a big announcement: A study showed the stone fortress has a $9 million economic impact on the region.

Despite its influence on the area — 66,000 annual visitors who spend $5 million while here — there had been no previous economic studies of the fort since its restoration began in 1909.

The survey by the Magellan Strategy Group of Asheville, N.C., assessed jobs, taxes, tourist spending, lodging and other factors and came up with $8.9 million in annual economic impact.

That’s great news, and it will certainly help the fort with marketing, grant-writing and fund-raising.

But it wasn’t the huge announcement people had been waiting for: a hotel at the fort, either through new construction or rebuilding of the Pell Pavilion summer house on the grounds.

Fort Chief Executive Officer Beth Hill has been tight-lipped about when or if that announcement will be made, but she did say to expect something big from the fort later this year.

We can only hope. Visitors to the fort who could stay right there would be a great boon to the site and the town.

Fort Ti is a huge resource to the region, and what it does directly affects the local economy, we now know.

Preserved by the Pell family of Ticonderoga since 1820, the fort is now operated by a non-profit association and managed by Hill and a Board of Trustees. It was built in 1755 as the French fort Carillon, later falling into British, then American control.

Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys took it from the British for America’s first victory in the American Revolution on May 10, 1775.

Since Hill took over the fort in 2010, first as its executive director, now as chief executive officer, she’s made a lot of changes.

Some have been controversial (rerouting visitor traffic to enter on an unpaved back road), while others (the new study, more educational programs and adding interpretive re-enactor stations) have been welcome.

Hill gets a lot of credit for trying new ideas. The fort has been progressing during her time there.

Many of the speakers at the recent impact announcement, including State Sen. Betty Little and State Assemblyman Dan Stec, praised her leadership.

Hill, in turn, congratulated her staff and the Board of Trustees for all their hard work keeping the place moving forward.

We join in a historic huzzah for everyone who’s had something to do with the fort’s recent success.

Let’s hope things there hum along just as smoothly for another 105 years.