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New survey hopes to boost Oswego County tourism industry

Gino Geruntino
Tourism and recreations thoughout Oswego County are the focus of a new pilot program.

New York Sea Grant, SUNY Oswego's Office of Business and Community Relations and several other Oswego County groups are launching a survey pilot program to better understand the area's recreation and tourism industry.

Later this month, about 600 businesses in the county will be asked questions about their businesses and future plans.

Chena Tucker with SUNY Oswego says the Business Retention and Expansion Program will help the county figure out what business owners worry about most, like minimum wage laws and finding grant opportunities.

"The survey is about 50 questions and it really tries to hone in on what the pain points are for local businesses within the region, and try to determine the strategies that we can create to help them be more successful," Tucker said. "And to either retain them - them staying in business - or then even help them expand their business."

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO

She says the survey comes at a great time, as more residents are enjoying the region and sticking around central New York.

"We're seeing a real change," Tucker explained. "There's the whole staycation movement, people that want to stay local. There's the baby boomer population, a lot of people that are into retirement. So, we see it as just an opportunity to highlight what it is that we do here, and then really start to market and brand ourselves as that location. Because we know that dollars coming in from out of the county are really going to help support the businesses. Any of them, not just recreation and tourism, but any of those peripheral businesses on the side, as well."

Tucker also says although the survey is not related to the college's support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's START-UP NY initiative, the information could serve a dual purpose.

"I think it shows the momentum and kind of the flavor of what's happening around," Tucker said. "It's kind of in the lexicon and it's on the tips of everybody's tongue right now, especially within our area, looking at central New York, in particular Oswego County, and what are the things that we can do to support business, to generate more business and really then help with more start ups."

Other groups serving on the Oswego County Recreation and Tourism Business Retention and Expansion Task Force are members of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Oswego County Promotion and Tourism, Operation Oswego County, the Fort Brewerton/Greater Oneida Lake Chamber of Commerce, and the New York State Tug Hill Commission.

The survey was originally developed by Ohio State University and has been implemented in other states. The survey asks businesses things like their hours of operation, number of employees and any renovation or expansion plans they may have. Responses will be accepted until May 12.