To The Daily Sun,
Much is said about the New Hampshire Advantage. We attribute many of our successes to our frugality and willingness to take care of our own communities while living within our means. But as much as we talk about it, sometimes we don't pay enough attention to what it really means, think about its components, and take proactive steps to preserve it.
Protecting our natural resources and cultural heritage lies at the heart of "Live Free or Die", and is an important component. Here in the Lakes Region we particularly value our mountains, lakes and rivers, the most visible components of our natural heritage. Our richly diverse communities and magnificent geography clearly identify us as the center of New Hampshire.
Hardest to see and measure, though, are the contributions of our people and the decisions we make. People here in the Lakes Region are strong and resilient and we embrace our neighbors and visitors alike. These define our character and enrich us as well as the entire Granite State, to say nothing about attracting abundant tourists to enjoy our hospitality.
When viewed through this prism, the choices some of our legislators are making are baffling. We know that investing in the New Hampshire Advantage pays dividends, yet we see aggressive, crippling cuts being made to programs — including some which return more than $8 for every dollar we spend.
For example, for every dollar we put into promoting our state's tourism industry, our state and local governments take in more than eight dollars in revenue. At the same time, spending by visiting tourists help fund more than 68,000 jobs in our state.
One of the smart decisions we made a few years ago to ensure this continues, was to dedicate a small portion of rooms and meals tax revenue specifically to tourism promotion. The House Republican passed budget is poised to suspend that action — a cut of nearly half of the budget for promoting our state's tourism industry. Again, for every dollar we spend on tourism promotion we get eight back. This cut of more than $3 million could result in real revenue losses of more than $20 million, and deliver a long term domino effect in job losses and business contraction.
Research in other states has shown that even temporary reductions in promotional marketing of tourism can have a lasting impact on the state's economy. Why would we want to risk that?
The Lakes Region that so many of us call home would suffer mightily if these illogical cuts aren't reversed. We aren't just talking about the loss of seasonal jobs, we are talking about small businesses we've known for years, even decades, disappearing. Hardworking Granite State families, people that have supported their communities and our state for generations, facing hardship over bad business decisions made by legislators more concerned about campaign slogans than the strength of the communities they represent.
When we look at the states that have come out of the recent economic downturn the strongest, the common element has been investing in themselves. If we don't do the same, the New Hampshire Advantage will be something we tell stories about, "remember when. . ."
The actions of the current legislature aren't even penny-wise, they are just pound-foolish. We should be investing in the preservation of the New Hampshire Advantage. These cuts aren't the right choice for our state, we owe Granite Staters better decision making than that.
David O. Huot
- Category: Letters
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