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Rockland puts its money where its tourism is

In a ceremony at the Rockland Community College Hospitality & Culinary Arts Center in Nyack, County Executive Ed Day and Lucy Redzeposki, Rockland’s director of economic development, announced $278,000 in grants to 29 organizations that promote tourism in Rockland.

“Economic development via tourism plays a major role in the health and vitality of the county,” Redzeposki said. “The organizations awarded today will be able to showcase our county and attract visitors.”

The largest awards of $17,000 each went to the Garner Arts Center in Garnerville and the Penguin Rep Theatre in Stony Point. The Greater Nanuet Chamber of Commerce received $15,000 as did the New York Boulders professional baseball team, which plays in Pomona.

“Many of you remember the dark times. When I came into office we were $138 million in the hole. It was bad. We were very close to going bankrupt,” Day said. “At that time we needed every lifeline imaginable to move forward. Tourism ended up playing a crucial role in the recovery.”

Day described tourism as providing endless benefits to Rockland County.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day announcing tourism grants.

“It creates jobs, it strengthens economies as seen here in Rockland County and contributes to infrastructure development,” Day said pointing out that recent New York state tourism studies found that tourism generated 50% more dollars in 2021 than it did in 2020. “When visitors look at our downtowns, when they explore, they eat at our restaurants, they shop in our stores, they are not just fueling our economy but they are stabilizing taxes for our residents.”

Day said that the average household in Rockland would have to pay an additional $556 in yearly property taxes to maintain current services if it were not for sales and local taxes generated by tourists. Day said that the grant money is going to organizations that bring arts, music, sports, theater and culture into the county.

Day said that when the tourism grants program was started in 2016 the county had only about $100,000 to distribute compared with the $278,000 just released.

“They’re county dollars. They are an investment in ourselves and they come attached with a set of performance expectations,” Day said. “It’s centered around boosting Rockland tourism because it’s a success story. We have every confidence that the organizations receiving this funding will bring tourists here to see all that Rockland has to offer. This is a beautiful county. There is so much going for it. I’ve been here since 1983. The smartest thing I ever did was move up here from the city.”

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