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New York’s World-Class Winter Sports Facilities at Lake Placid Shine During FISU World University Games

Skiers can continue to ski at Whiteface in Lake Placid during the FISU World University Games, going on through January 22. The winter sport destination, which hosted two Olympics, along with the state’s other Olympic Regional Development Authority venues, have benefited from $552 million in investment over the last six years to prime the venues for such world-class events and sustain a $16.1 billion winter tourism industry © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This week, New York State’s Olympic facilities at Lake Placid are hosting the FISU World University Games, welcoming 1,443 collegiate-athletes plus coaches and fans from more than 540 universities and 46 nations.

The Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games, going on until January 22, feature competition in 12 winter sports and 85 events including skiing and snowboarding, curling, figure skating, ice hockey and speed skating in venues throughout the Adirondack North Country in Lake Placid as well as Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Potsdam, Canton and North Creek. (The competition schedule and tickets to the events are available here.)

The prestigious event is an opportunity to showcase for the world the state’s world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) facilities, enhanced with a six-year, $552 million investment to help maintain the region’s standing as a world-class winter sport destination fitting for an Olympic-sized event, for the lasting benefit of New York’s $16.1 billion winter tourism industry.

“We made transformative investments to renovate the Lake Placid Olympic Center, revitalized our airports, improved our roads and bridges and grew our regional sports infrastructure to ensure that Lake Placid is well-positioned to host the games,” Governor Kathy Hochul said when she opened the games.

“The event will once again put Lake Placid on a global stage, drawing thousands of visitors to the region and inviting millions more to watch the games via ESPN in the United States, TSN in Canada and FISU TV. For many, it will be the first time they’ll see the bold and picturesque Adirondack Mountains, vibrant downtown Lake Placid and our world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority ski areas and venues. And these games offer a chance to showcase the New York’s thriving winter tourism industry.”

Special events like the games that spark additional travel generate even more spending in our restaurants, hotels and businesses, supporting jobs in a hospitality industry still rebuilding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. State-supported ORDA venues are open year-round for events, athlete training and recreation. Once the World University Games have finished, these same facilities will host this winter season the World Cup in Ski Jumping, NCAA Alpine and Cross-Country Skiing Championships, Synchronized Figure Skating World Championships. The Bobsled Skeleton World Championships will follow in February 2025, and IBU Biathlon Cups are planned in February and March 2026.

Last winter, New York welcomed 68.5 million visitors, generating more than $16.1 billion in direct visitor spending. ORDA’s economic impact for New York State was last measured at $273.6 million for 2019-2020, a 75 percent increase over the previous 2016-2017 measurement of $156 million.

New York State has made significant investments in the North Country totaling $552 million over the last six years in preparation for the World University Games, and ongoing support for the competitive sports infrastructure and regional tourism. Investments have helped to renovate facilities owned and operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, such as the $104 million renovation of the Lake Placid Olympic Center, and other host facilities like the nearly $7 million overhaul of the Saranac Lake Civic Center.

The improvements are a legacy that will be enjoyed by New York’s skiers and winter visitors for years to come.

ORDA has been steadily improving the snowmaking infrastructure throughout its ski areas, particularly over the last ten years. These upgrades have increased the efficiency of snowmaking operations, allowing for the mountains to open terrain faster, and earlier in the season when temperatures allow. The modernized systems, which utilize energy more effectively, also are a key part of ORDA’s award-winning sustainability initiatives: solar energy at the alpine venues, state of the art snowmaking equipment that significantly reduces water and energy use, EV charging stations, e-zambonis and hybrid grooming equipment, LED lighting.

Indeed, in conjunction with the FISU Games, a World Conference was convened to share information about the initiatives and actions they have implemented to mitigate climate change and save winter from global warming. From venue design and infrastructure to sustainably sourced items to the LED torch and flameless cauldron, the Host Partners and New York State set a new standard for a commitment to the environment for future events. 

Improved Winter Facilities at ORDA Venues 

This winter, New Yorkers and the rest of the world will enjoy upgrades, renovations, snowmaking improvements to Olympic Regional Development Authority-operated ski venues: Gore Mountain in North Creek, Belleayre Mount in Highmount, Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, and Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.

Gore Mountain: New this season is Backwoods, an intermediate trail that begins at the top of Burnt Ridge Mountain and parallels the Barkeater Glades. The trail ends uphill of Roaring Brook Bridge and provides faster and more direct access to Little Gore Mountain and the North Creek Ski Bowl. Over 230 new high-efficiency snow guns have been installed on Backwoods, Showcase, Uncas, Paradox, Peaceful Valley, and Chatiemac. For the FISU Games, crews developed the sanctioned slopestyle and boardercross courses, enhanced snowmaking and widened the terrain. The FIS-certified race trail, Echo, was also bolstered with increased snowmaking capacity to accommodate the venue’s busy calendar of alpine events and recreational skiers and riders throughout the season.  (goremountain.comGore Mountain Snow Report)

Whiteface Mountain: New this season is the Ausable Run, a beginner trail off the Warhorse Quad lift, and Yellow Dot, an expert trail connecting the top of Victoria to Lower Skyward. Whiteface installed 35,000 feet of new pipe, 160 high-efficiency snow guns, and 245 new hydrants. Additionally, two new Pisten Bully groomers join the fleet. After hosting Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games alpine competitions,  Whiteface will host the NCAA Regionals and National Championship in Alpine, the Empire State Games and other regional races. The mountain will be open to the public during the event dates for skiing and riding, and spectators can view the events in the newly designed Andrew Weibrecht Finish Area. Additional improvements to the race area include enhancements to the Freeway lift, timing and radio systems, and power to the finish building. (whiteface.comWhiteface Mountain Snow Report)

Belleayre Mountain installed 60,000 additional feet of new pipe, a new snowmaking pump, and added 300 high-efficiency snow guns. A new retail space relocated upstairs on the main floor of Discovery Lodge provides guests with a renewed shopping experience with a view. (belleayre.com,  Belleayre Mountain Snow Report.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg: The Mt Van Hoevenberg transformation was completed in 2020, providing a world-class facility and 5 km of World Championship-rated cross-country skiing trails for training and racing. The trails carry tremendous snowmaking power, from the number of high-efficiency snow guns and hydrants to its reservoir capacity, providing state-of-the-art snowmaking for a Nordic Center. Thanks to the state’s investment ORDA will host multiple World Cup competitions. Recently, Mt Van Hoevenberg was awarded the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Cup for 2026. This is in addition to the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup in Bobsled and Skeleton taking place at the Mt Van Hoevenberg Sliding Center December 16-18, and at its sister venue, the Olympic Jumping Complex, the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup will return this winter, February 10-12, 2023. For non-competitive athletes, Mt. Van hoevenberg offers some of the most exciting opportunities to feel like an Olympian: a state-of-the-art combined skeleton and bobsled track and North America’s longest mountain coaster, The Cliffside Coaster. 50km of cross country skiing trails, you can even try your hand at the biathalon. There is also a new Mountain Pass Lodge. (mtvanhoevenberg.com, Mt Van Hoevenberg Snow Report)

The SKI3 Season Pass provides the greatest flexibility and savings for skiing and riding at Whiteface, Belleayre, and Gore. Single day tickets are also at the lowest prices of the season and should be purchased in advance to secure desired days this winter.

“Winter is always an amazing time to travel in New York, which has more ski areas than any other state in the nation,” said Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi. “ORDA’s world class ski facilities, along with scores of private ski areas across the state, make for an unparalleled ski experience. When paired with activities from snowmobiling and winter carnivals to ice wine tastings and spa getaways to the FISU World University Games, visitors can come be a part of the ultimate winter wonderland and find what they love in New York State.”

Information on skiing and other winter activities statewide is available at iloveny.com/winter and iskiny.com. Updated downhill and cross-country ski reports for all of New York State courtesy of Ski NY and Cross-Country Ski Areas of NY are available on 1-800-ILOVENY and linked on iloveny.com.

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World Tourism Day, Sept 27, Calls Attention to Global Importance of Travel

Tourism to Inle Lake, Myanmar, provides an economic foundation to preserve traditional crafts as well as promote understanding © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

As the 74th United Nations General Assembly gets underway, it is appropriate to be reminded of one of the missions, though the United National World Tourism Organization, to promote international travel. Each year, on September 27, UNWTO commemorates World Tourism Day with celebrations led by UNWTO. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution the sector can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, in line with UNWTO’s overarching focus on skills, education and jobs throughout the year, World Tourism Day will be a celebration on the topic ‘Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all’.

This is from the UNWTO website:

Tourism’s role in job creation is often undervalued. This is despite the fact that tourism generates 10% of world jobs and is included in Sustainable Development Goal 8 for its potential to create decent work.

New policies are needed to maximize tourism’s potential to create more and better jobs, especially for women and youth. New policies are also needed to reflect and incorporate ongoing advances in technology.

Policies and actions should be geared towards addressing the current mismatch between tourism skills that are taught and those that tourism employers need.

This requires a holistic approach to the future of work in tourism, with heightened cooperation between all actors, including the public and private sectors.

The Future of Work

Creating and ensuring equitable employment is essential to increasing social inclusion, peace and security. The potential of every economic sector to provide decent jobs should be utilized to its fullest.

The emergence of new technologies has led to the development of new forms of work that are rapidly changing production processes worldwide. This both provides opportunities for, and puts pressure, on existing employment, welfare and education agendas.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), global unemployment remains high, reaching more than 190 million in 2018. All sectors and countries, therefore, need to create the conditions for more and better jobs. Embracing new technology can play a key role in achieving this goal.

Making the new wave of technological breakthroughs as inclusive as possible will require considerable investment in training and skills for life and work. Everyone should have a chance to develop their full potential so as to benefit from the new technological era.

To do this we need to examine the impact of technological change on socioeconomic growth, jobs and inequality. We also need to provide tools and skills to those who are looking for a job and as well as to those whose jobs are at risk of automation.

On the occasion of its centenary in 2019, the ILO released ‘Work for a Brighter Future: Report of the Global Commission on the future of Work’. This landmark report takes note of the forces transforming the world – technology, climate change, demography, globalization – to call for a human-centered agenda for the future of work.

By placing people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice, the path towards growth, equity and sustainability consists of three pillars of action:

Increase investment in people’s capabilities

Increase investment in the institutions of work

Increase investment in decent and sustainable work

Tourism is a leading people-to-people sector, with growth rates outpacing world economic growth and international trade. It is one of the main global export categories and with such a high impact on human workforce, it serves as a natural ally of ILO’s human-centered agenda for the future of work.

Tourism and Jobs

Tourism is a major source of employment because of its labour-intensive nature and the significant multiplier effect on employment in related sectors. It is estimated that one job in the core tourism sector creates about one-and-a-half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy. Overall tourism accounts for one in ten jobs worldwide.

The ILO estimates that ‘accommodation and restaurants’, together with ‘private sector services’, will create jobs at the fastest rate among all sectors in the economy over the next five years.

Tourism has proven to be a resilient economic activity. In each of the seven years following the global economic crisis of 2010, the number of worldwide international tourist arrivals grew at 4% or above.

Tourism is a contributor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a target in Goals 8, 12 and 14. The sector’s contribution to job creation is specifically recognized in Goal 8, target 8.9. This states: “By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.

Tourism’s voice at the UN level is mirrored in other global development and policy fora. The 26th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government concluded in November 2018 with a high-level political declaration on sustainable development in which tourism plays a key supporting role. The commitment includes UNWTO as the designated global partner and marks the first time the tourism sector has been featured in a top-level multilateral cooperation agenda.

More recently, the G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration from June 2019 singles out tourism’s contribution to global economic growth and inclusive and sustainable development: “Tourism accounts for a significant share of the world’s GDP and is expected to continue to be an important driver of global economic growth. We will work to maximize the sector’s contribution to the creation of quality jobs and entrepreneurship, especially for women and youth and in the creative industry; economic resilience and recovery; the preservation of natural resources through sustainable tourism planning and management; and the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development.”

However, despite representing 10% of the world’s jobs, tourism’s role in employment generation and entrepreneurship is often underestimated and undervalued in policy formulation and implementation.

mismatch between available qualifications and workplace reality is one of the major factors impacting tourism employment and talent development. The gap between education and skills/knowledge needs, and the resulting shortages of labour with ‘future-proof’ skills, continues to dent economies and harm job creation prospects. Moreover, tourism suffers from important challenges related to attracting and retaining talent and the improvement of working conditions.

Tourism Jobs and the Digital Revolution

Globalization, technological progress and demographic change are trends that, together, have redefined the tourism sector and how it functions. At the heart of our now hyper-connected, hyper-informed world is a digital-led revolution in markets, as well as in the demand for skills and the characteristics of tourism jobs. Recent years have seen the emergence of digital breakthroughs, including new platform tourism services (the so-called sharing or collaborative economy), big data and geo-localization.

Some of the main issues the tourism sector faces in adapting its workforce to the technological revolution are:

The need to review and update outdated legislation and regulation that supports employment, innovation, entrepreneurship and new business models

The low level of awareness and expertise of new technologies and technological trends

A lack of funding to invest in new technologies and training for the jobs needed for the present and future

The lack of cooperation and communication among relevant stakeholders

MSMEs Are Key to Decent Work in Tourism

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are now the major job creators in tourism. OECD/ILO research shows that around half of tourism employees work in enterprises of fewer than 10 people, while around three-quarters work in enterprises of fewer than 50 people.

Tourism MSMEs are also an important source of innovation and economic diversification, helping to shape socioeconomic development in destination countries worldwide.

However, access to finance, prohibiting business regulations and inadequate skills are major constraints faced by all MSMEs including those operating in the tourism sector.

The main challenge related to MSMEs, then, is to create an enabling environment that at once improves their economic prospects, overcomes barriers to decent jobs, and ensures that MSMEs’ economic activities are environmentally sustainable.

Promoting Jobs For All in Tourism – Youth, Women and Rural Communities

The tourism sector employs more women and young people than most other sectors.

Just under half (47%) of people working in tourism in European OECD countries are between 15 and 34 years of age, compared to a third (32%) of workers in the economy as a whole.

In OECD countries, women account for 60% of employment in the tourism sector. This is higher than the share of women employed in the services sector (47%) and in the economy as a whole (43%).

Women play a leading role in tourism entrepreneurship. UNWTO/UNWomen research shows that the global rate of women entrepreneurs in ‘hotels and restaurants’ (36%) is comparatively higher than in all sectors combined (22%).

Furthermore, tourism creates jobs in rural and remote areas, not only directly but also indirectly through the preservation and restoration of traditional activities. Often it is one of the few viable economic sectors in these areas.

The explicit mention of tourism in Goal 8, target 8.9 of the SDGs recognizes its transformational potential on livelihoods and prosperity in rural communities, both through providing access to decent employment and through reviving traditional local industries.

By providing opportunities for women, youth and rural communities in a variety of roles, tourism contributes to several SDG target areas surrounding empowerment of vulnerable groups and more equal and inclusive societies. More inclusion strengthens tourism’s power to unite people across cultures in a celebration of diversity, increasing overall social resilience.

Despite these benefits tourism provides, it must also address serious challenges surrounding employment for all of these groups.

One is a large gender pay gap. In tourism, women are on average paid 20-25% less than male workers for comparable skills. Women are often over-represented in non-standard forms of employment. Women also suffer segregation in terms of access to education and training.

Low-skilled women often find themselves in the most vulnerable jobs, at risk of poor working conditions, inequality of opportunity and treatment, violence, exploitation, stress and sexual harassment.

Temporary and part-time jobs are particularly common among women, young people, and the less-skilled who are employed in tourism. They can often lead to decent work deficits, including inadequate social security coverage, low wages and income inequality, and poor working conditions.  

The tourism sector’s variable demand cycle, with irregular working hours and unpredictable shifts, poses additional challenges for those (of any gender) trying to reconcile work and family responsibilities. At the same time, however, this flexibility may also provide opportunities to individuals wanting to combine a job in tourism with another occupation.

A Policy Framework for Decent Tourism Jobs

New policies are needed to maximize the potential of the tourism sector to create more and better jobs, while reducing the risk associated with an increasing skills mismatch.

There is a longstanding tradition of the tourism sector working in isolation from other key economic sectors. The way forward is for a more holistic approach to the future of work in tourism, with clear links to other sectors that are important for economic development.

The major ongoing changes and challenges around tourism employment require a new approach to skills development and education, policies for innovation and job creation.

Policies should:

Encourage the progress of innovation in tourism that fosters job creation and entrepreneurship, particularly among women, youth and rural communities, through;

Establishing tourism innovation centres, incentives and programmes to connect start-ups, leading companies, investors and governments;

Developing research on the changing demand for skills due to the digital revolution;

Creating initiatives that promote innovation and technological skills development in tourism;

Bring together educational institutions, the private sector, governments and technology partners to review educational programmes and help create the skill sets needed for future work opportunities, including soft skills;

Further bridge the gap between available qualifications and workplace skills needed, by supporting opportunities for appropriate industry experience, such as internships or scholarships, along with specialized education and training;

Include technology stakeholders in national tourism policy coordination structures and mechanisms, in order to ensure an holistic approach that accounts for innovation and job creation;

Include tourism as a key sector in both national and multilateral agenda for employment, education and skills creation, and overall economic development, highlighting tourism’s capacity to deliver on the objectives of creating more and better jobs.

Join the celebration: #WTD2019

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New York State to Spend $50 Million to Promote Tourism

Feel like an Olympian at the bobsled run at Lake Placid, New York © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Feel like an Olympian at the bobsled run at Lake Placid, New York © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

At the third New York State Tourism Summit, State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a commitment of $50 million  to promote statewide tourism, create jobs, and attract more visitors to every region of New York. This investment, which is one of the largest ever by the State, builds upon the historic investments in the tourism industry which generated a $100.1 billion economic impact in 2014.

The summit, held in Albany, brought hundreds of tourism experts to the Capitol to discuss innovative ideas and new ways to encourage travel to all 11 vacations regions of the State. As a result of the Governor’s support of tourism, the industry has seen an increase in spending, state and local tax revenue, visitors and employment since 2011, and a record-breaking economic impact of $100.1 billion in 2014.

Last year, New York’s tourism industry generated direct spending of $62.5 billion, producing $7.8 billion in state and local taxes. The number of visitors to New York increased by 8.2 million with nearly 227 million visitors in 2014. As New York’s fourth largest employment sector, one out of every 12 jobs in New York is tourism-related. Data from 2014 show the tourism industry supported 867,900 jobs and generated more than $31 billion in wages.

Initiatives announced at the Summit include:

Increased Level of Tourism Funding: The State will invest nearly $50 million in tourism funding. This is more than $5 million compared to last year and includes tourism marketing, transportation promotion, international marketing, and funding for industry development.

Tourism Marketing Campaign: $25 million will be utilized for tourism marketing, featuring the I LOVE NY, Path Through History and Taste NY initiatives. The new marketing campaign will feature TV ads and other media at airports, on roads, on railways, on the web and on mobile devices to promote tourism opportunities throughout New York State. The very successful I Love New York television advertising campaign featuring actors and athletes from New York will continue into 2016.

Increased Transportation Access: A $4 million investment will be utilized to work with the Port Authority and MTA for opportunities to promote Upstate travel and make transportation information easily accessible for all travelers. The investment will also promote linkages from New York City via partners like car rental companies and bus and train operators to create transportation options in key areas where none exist.

Expand Global Tourism Markets: The Governor announced I LOVE NEW YORK will continue to expand its global reach through key markets in Australia and Puerto Rico. New York will create a Tourism Advisory Board in Australia, and host the first-ever Australia trade mission to bring New York travel representatives to meet with airline operators, travel media, and tour operators in Australia. In addition, announced during the Governor’s Solidarity Mission to Puerto Rico, a $5 million joint I LOVE NY tourism ad campaign will be used to promote travel between New York and Puerto Rico. This investment will provide a unique opportunity for travelers to experience the beauty of both Puerto Rico and New York and maximize the newly opened “I Love New York Welcome Center” in Puerto Rico at the NYS Office of Trade and Tourism. New York will also promote Upstate and build awareness of New York’s 11 regions through targeted marketing.

Winter Tourism Promotion:

The weekend of January 16-18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend) will be a free snowmobiling weekend to encourage out-of-state and Canadian snowmobile enthusiasts to sled in New York State. State registration fees will be waived for properly registered and insured out-of-state snowmobiling enthusiasts wishing to explore New York’s 10,500 miles of snowmobile trails. Information on snowmobiling, including online registration for out-of-state snowmobilers is available here

President’s Day weekend (February 13-14) will be a free ice fishing weekend to encourage more New Yorkers to try Ice fishing while many are on winter recess. Residents and visitors age 16 and older will be able to fish the fresh or marine waters of New York State without a license, providing a great opportunity for people to learn about this popular sport. More information is available here

I LOVE NY is also entering a partnership with all five New York State AHL teams: Utica Comets, Rochester Americans, Albany Devils, Binghamton Senators and the Syracuse Crunch to increase economic impact of spectators at New York winter sporting events and expose sports fans to New York State winter getaway opportunities. New York State tourism destinations will be promoted at team games and events and the AHL schedule will be featured on I LOVE NY platforms.

Business Travel and Special Events: To maximize New York State’s appeal to business travelers and event planners the State will: leverage corporate relationships to promote New York State through corporate travel departments to increase the number of meetings and conventions held in the state; engage concierges at New York City hotels, directly and through trade associates, to highlight daytrips and overnight getaways outside of Manhattan through the I LOVE NY Bus; and underwrite a percentage of costs incurred by municipalities or private entities who were successful in drawing new special events to New York State.

Lodging development: A multi-agency, public-private workgroup will be convened to explore incentives and grant programs that would encourage investors and developers to create and improve lodging in areas where few facilities exist.

Outdoor Recreation Promotion: Working in partnership with Department of Parks and DEC, leverage New York’s world-class parks and outdoor recreation facilities by promoting parks, trails and activities to nature lovers through targeted publications and websites.

Agri-Tourism and Heritage Tourism: Through the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and Taste NY, continue to build awareness of New York’s agri-tourism industry through culinary tours and encourage the creation of additional farm visit programs for consumers.

Market NY: Funding for the Market NY program will be increased to $13 million. This funding allows tourism assets to make necessary improvements and launch strategic marketing campaigns to increase visitorship. The funding will be awarded through the regional economic development council process.

In addition to increasing the state’s annual investment in tourism, the Governor will continue to host successful events such as the Adirondack Winter and Summer Challenges, and the new Catskills challenge to bring together state and local officials, tourism industry representatives and outdoor enthusiasts to strengthen tourism in Upstate New York.

“Tourism is vital to New York’s economy – it creates jobs and opportunity in virtually every community across the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “When people visit New York, they fall in love with all that our state has to offer and keep coming back. I am proud that our administration is continuing to play a leading role in supporting tourism across the state, and I look forward to seeing the industry and our economy thrive for years to come.”

“As a result of Governor Cuomo’s historic investments, New York State continues to experience record-breaking tourism year after year,” Lieutenant Governor Hochul said.  This can be attributed to the Governor’s ambitious agenda that has helped resurrect our I Love New York campaign, create good paying jobs, and attract scores of visitors from the North Fork to Niagara Falls. It’s no wonder that tourism generated over $100 billion dollars in economic impact last year alone. And with today’s $50 million dollars in new investment, we will entice even more people to come see what New York has to offer.”

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