Balsams study forecasts economic boom for Coos

But bid for state-backed $28m bond hits a snag


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Renovation and expansion of The Balsams Resort and Wilderness Ski Area will create significant job growth for New Hampshire’s North Country in the next few years and for a decade to come, according to an economic impact study conducted for the project’s developer.

But the New Hampshire Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee on Wednesday threw a wrench in the plans, at least for the time being. The five-member panel voted unanimously to send to study a bill that would provide a state-backed $28 million bond to help redevelop The Balsams.

If the full Senate agrees, the bill would be put on hold for the rest of the legislative session.

Meanwhile, the economic impact study, put together by economist Brian Gottlob of Dover-based Polecon Research, says the resort’s rebirth will also generate millions of new dollars in revenue for the state through rooms and meals, real estate transfer and other taxes.

Gottlob said the project will “dramatically alter the employment outlook for Coos County over the next decade, reversing a more than 10-year trend of declining wage and salary employment in the county.”

The Polecon study finds that initial renovation and expansion capital expenditures of more than $130 million will support an increase in Coos County employment of 583 full- and part-time jobs between 2015 and 2016, of which 300 are directly related to construction, rising afterwards to reach 1,700 by 2024. This represents a 4.1 percent increase in employment for Coos County in 2015, and 11.9 percent by 2024, the study finds.

Ski resort developer Les Otten is leading the Balsams redevelopment team. The project would include renovating the Dix, Hampshire and Hale houses, as well as the Panorama golf course and clubhouse designed by golf course architect Donald Ross. The Balsams Lake Village, which will encompass the Dix and Hampshire Houses, would feature a new Wilderness Lake Lodge, a 500-seat conference center, hot springs baths and spa, a performing arts center and an open-air marketplace.

“The restoration and enhancement of The Balsams will allow the resort to not only become relevant for the 21st Century, but to become a world-class, year-round destination with the potential to attract thousands of new visitors to New Hampshire, from all corners of the globe,” said New Hampshire Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffrey Rose. “This vision for The Balsams is a transformational opportunity for the North Country, and its benefits will be felt throughout the state.”

Additional key findings from the report, “The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Renovation, Expansion, and Annual Operation of The Balsams Resort and Wilderness Ski Area,” include:

 • Total economic activity as measured by output or sales will increase by almost $1 billion in Coos County between 2015 and 2024 from $65 million to $125 million annually as a result of the more than $300 million direct investment at the resort.

 • Between 2015 and 2024, direct, indirect and induced jobs resulting from The Balsams project will have created enough jobs to replace almost all of the jobs lost in Coos County over the most recent 10-year period.

 • Total labor income resulting from renovation, expansion, and operation of the Resort will increase by $383.1 million in New Hampshire between 2015 and 2024, including $293.8 million in Coos County.

 • Construction of new residential housing units for sale at The Balsams could increase Coos County population by between 0.8 percent and 2.4 percent over population levels in the county without the renovation and expansion project. In addition, new housing units at the resort provide an opportunity to bring high skill, higher-income residents to the county, increasing the attractiveness of the potential workforce in the region and longer-term prospects for revitalization of the region.

For a copy of the full Polecon report, contact Scott Tranchemontagne at 603-644-3200, ext. 15, or scott@montagnecom.com.

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