- Associated Press - Monday, February 22, 2016

COLEBROOK, N.H. (AP) - Those pinning their hopes for an economic boost on an effort to redevelop the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch should have a backup plan, according to a regional tourism official.

Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association Executive Director Gloria Bruce said it would be fantastic if the Balsams re-opened in Dixville Notch, but the community should be working on an alternative economic driver if it doesn’t.

“Should the Balsams not open, how then does the community move forward?” she told a North Country economic summit in Colebrook on Sunday, according to a New Hampshire Public Radio (https://bit.ly/1WDHcBZ ) report.

The Balsams - where the nation’s first presidential primary ballots are traditionally cast - closed in 2010, taking away hundreds of jobs in the strapped North Country. Maine ski resort developer Les Otten plans to expand the resort’s ski area, renovate existing buildings and build a 400-room hotel, conference center, spa and retreat. If the $320 million project gets the necessary approval, construction would start this year and be finished by 2024.

The project took another step forward last month when the attorney general’s office allowed for the amending of conservation restrictions in four towns, mostly for the ski area expansion.



Bruce said she would encourage North Country residents and officials to develop two strategies, one that assumes the resort project fails and one that assumes it succeeds. In the latter event, officials should figure out how to make sure locals have the best chance for jobs, particularly those with high pay, she said.

The economic summit was organized by local businesses, regional leaders and the UNH Cooperative Extension. Those attending considered issues ranging from the workforce and regional identity to attracting more visitors and business from Canada.

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Information from: WEVO-FM, https://www.nhpr.org/

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