I had only been to Ellicottville a few times when I took them on as a client. But, from my years living in Leelanau County, MI, I was familiar with the nature and needs of a small, rural tourist town that features stunning scenery, lots of outdoor recreation and adorable shops and restaurants.
I knew the economic development challenges were unique to this type of community, and as I got to know the town and village leadership, I learned even more.
Ellicottville is, in some ways, a victim of its own success. The Village has a mere 450 taxpaying residents, the Town just over 1,200. That is about 1,600 people to carry the weight of taxes to support infrastructure that can be used by 20,000 people on a popular ski or fall getaway weekend.
Ellicottville also has an influx of second homeowners who are wealthy Canadians or US residents. They visit their homes primarily on weekends throughout the year. And while they do spend at the restaurants and shops during these short stays, that leaves empty streets for four days a week. And don’t even get me started on the weather! A couple years ago, the Thruway was closed over the busiest weekend of the year for Ellicottville – President’s Day. The buses that couldn’t get through were a huge hit to the economy of this area that relies on skiers on long weekends.
So as we write applications for the Town and Village, we have to move past the perception of a rich community that doesn’t need support. At the end of the day, Ellicottville supports the tax base of Cattaraugus County, one of the poorest in the State. So the impact of every dollar flowing into EVL is much larger than the footprint of the Town itself.
To date, we have secured grants for a new engineering department, upgrades to the Town Center, and for a new skatepark. Currently, we are working closely with the Trails group to secure funding when it reopens for an alternate pathway for visitors to walk, bike, skate and stroll off the busy roadways.
I love working with and in Ellicottville—a beautiful community with a passionate group of residents who love the outdoors and their small town and want to keep it healthy and beautiful for everyone to enjoy!