Tourism

Fort Ti has $9 million impact

New survey shows economic value of national landmark to area

By: LOHR McKINSTRY

TICONDEROGA — The first-ever economic impact study of Fort Ticonderoga was unveiled Tuesday, showing the national historic landmark injects almost $9 million a year into the region.

Fort Chief Executive Officer Beth Hill made the announcement before a group of about 50 public officials and community leaders gathered in the stone fortress’s Mars Education Center.

“We are seeing revitalization in Ticonderoga,” Hill said. “Each step forward, little or big, is collectively making a difference.”

Paraphrasing 18th-century French commander Lord Louis de Montcalm, she said, “Action and audacity will carry us forward.”

‘VITALLY IMPORTANT’

The study, done by Magellan Strategy Group of Asheville, N.C., noted that of the 66,000 visitors to the fort last season, 85 percent of them said they came to the area solely to see the fort, while 75 percent were there for the first time.

Of those visitors, 54 percent stayed at least one night in the region as part of their Fort Ti visit, while 24 percent stayed in Ticonderoga area lodging.

About 80 local jobs directly depend on Fort Ticonderoga, the study said, with $2.4 million in labor costs and $5.4 million in economic output.

Spending by visitors to the fort generates $5 million a year in direct economic impact to the area, the report said.

“This is an impact that is vitally important to the economy of our region,” Hill said. “This is the beginning of a potential bold vision for the future.”

She said the total effect found by the study was $8.9 million, which includes tourist and fort spending, taxes and labor income.

PROOF OF IMPACT

Preserved by the Pell family of Ticonderoga since 1820, the fort is now owned by a non-profit association.

It was built in 1755 as the French fort Carillon, later falling into British, then American hands.

It played key roles in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) took the podium to say the data collected by the report will aid numerous agencies and groups.

“Those numbers (in the study) say we have proof of what we have here. The town (of Ticonderoga) has worked really hard to take those visitors and give them something else to do while they’re here. I thank you for all your efforts.”

Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) told the crowd that Hill, the fort’s staff and the fort’s Board of Trustees have all done a fantastic job with the resources they have to work with.

“You found out for sure what everyone suspected all along.”

‘HUGE INVESTMENT’

James McKenna, president of the Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, said New York state is fast being recognized as a place to come and view history.

“This (Fort Ti) is one of our sustainable economic denominators for the region. We’re in a position (now) where we realize what has to be done.”

Ticonderoga Town Supervisor William Grinnell said he likes being from the town that’s home to “America’s Fort.”

“The fort has made a huge investment in its future by remolding its product,” Grinnell said. “The economic impact of their effort is clearly reflected in the report the fort has had done.”

ENTHUSIASTIC STAFF

Hill said her staff gets a lot of the credit for the advances that have been made at the fort.

“We have a collective sense of enthusiasm for what has been done. We’re building a bright future for our region.”

Like many of the speakers at the event, North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas praised Hill for her efforts at revitalizing the fort since she took over its management in 2010.

“You have one tremendous visionary leader in Beth Hill,” Douglas told the assembled mass. “Give her a round of applause.”

Which they did.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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