We recently announced a total of $212,000 in tourism grants to 32 local organizations. This funding is another step towards continuing to improve and enrich life in our community. This would not have been possible without the efforts of Jeremy Schulman, our Director of Economic Development and Tourism and his team.
When I first took office in January of 2014, I vowed to find new and innovative ways to bring money into Rockland County. 6 years later and we have done just that; bringing in $8.4 Billion in tax ratables. These additions will ensure the stability of our tax base for years to come, protecting homeowners from the double-digit tax increases of the past.
The funding we announced is going to organizations that bring arts, music, theater and culture into Rockland County.
They include such groups as the Garner Arts Center and Historic District, the Edward Hopper House, Haverstraw River Arts, the Historical Society of Rockland County, the Holocaust Museum and Center for Tolerance and Education, the Penguin Players, the New York Boulders, the Rockland Farm Alliance, the United Latin Festival of Haverstraw and so many others.
Funding is also being awarded to the Suffern Chamber of Commerce and Visit Nyack. Groups that work to bring people into the community. It’s not just about enriching our community with festivals, theater and art. It’s about bringing visitors and the money they spend into Rockland.
We want people to come here, spend the day in downtown Nyack or Suffern, go to one of our great festivals, go to a theater performance. While they are here, they can eat at our restaurants, shop in our stores and find other ways to spend money. Money that fuels our economy and stabilizes taxes for our residents.
According to the most recent Tourism Economic Study from New York State, tourism accounted for 7.1 percent of all employment in Rockland and generated $30.4 million in local taxes.
If not for tourism generated sales and local taxes the average household in Rockland would have to pay an additional $568 in yearly taxes to maintain current services. That is a lot of money saved thanks to the efforts of our Economic Development and Tourism Office.
Our region’s leisure and hospitality sector grew over 5% last year, the strongest year-over-year December growth since 2001, evidence of the strength of Rockland and the Hudson Valley’s tourism industry.
We made had the pleasure of making this announcement at the beautifully renovated RCC Hospitality & Culinary Arts Center in downtown Nyack which is helping us build upon our efforts.
They are connecting students with workforce specific training and fast track certificate programs to meet the needs of local businesses. This is how we ensure that local residents truly benefit from the tourism boom happening here in Rockland.
This is the way forward. We have created an environment where businesses thrive, jobs are created, and visitors come from near and far to see all we have to offer. And I know that our music, theater, art, riverfronts and downtowns will keep them coming back.