Much has been discussed about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our local and national economy. Lake George is affected adversely in many ways because of our seasonal nature. Many of our businesses have a much shorter window to operate and our fear is many will not survive, regardless of the economic stimulus package and Payroll Protection Act.
What is equally devastating is the government’s inaction concerning the J-1 International Student Program.
Each year the Lake George region, and every resort in the United States, depends on students from all over the world to fill entry-level jobs. Last year we hosted over 1,400 in Lake George alone. They arrive before our schools are out and can stay into October, long after our students have returned to college.
They work as chambermaids, busboys, dishwashers, rest-room attendants and wait staff. They pay rent, purchase clothing, send gifts home, eat and drink in our restaurants, ride our trolleys and live in older resorts that depend solely on them for revenue. Their economic impact excess $3 million annually to our region. Our students will not even accept the jobs the J-1 students perform.
Not allowing these students to travel to the United States will seriously affect our local businesses during 2020.
Also, the additional $600 per week granted to those on unemployment has created another hurdle to get those positions filled.
Hopefully, all businesses will join us in writing the federal government officials and Rep. Stefanik, in particular, asking them to oppose extension of this unthinkable bonus rewarding some to stay out of work.
At the end of this bleak outlook, however, is the resilience of our business community, the natural beauty of Lake George and the determination that “American Premier Family Resort” will still be there to welcome you with “open arms.”
Mayor Robert Blais, Lake George
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