Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Investing" in the Balsams.

For those readers outside of New Hampshire, the Balsams was a big old summer resort way up in northern NH, up in Dixville Notch.  Times were hard, and the Balsams went out of business a few years ago.  Now there is a push to revive the Balsams.  Adding urgency is the collapse of the paper industry in northern NH.  All the mills are now closed, and the northern mill towns like Berlin and Clearbrooke and Lancaster are hurting.  The hurt is so bad you can see it just driving thru town.  So naturally everyone in Coos County is in favor. 
  Trouble is, the developer[s] are saying they need government support to the tune of at least $28 million in cash, and more in loan guarantees.  Money to come maybe from the state, and maybe some from Coos county.  Loan guarantees to come from the State.  Which means the taxpayers cover the developer's risks.  If the project goes belly up in a few years,  my tax dollars make good the developer's losses. 
  The real question is, can the Balsams be made to work?  To make enough money to pay its suppliers, its workers, and service its debt.  Good question, which nobody is asking.  The Balsams is way far north, too far north to attract Boston skiers.  The drive is just too long.  The Canadians don't ski in NH much, they go north to Mt. Tremblant in Quebec.  Tremblant gets more snow and more cold than NH 'cause it's 150 miles further north. 
   I'd like to see a real business plan, one that shows how many skiers, hikers, snowmobilers, and others it needs to cover projected costs.  I haven't seen it yet. 
   I'm OK with spending my tax money to bring some business and employment to hard stricken Coos country.  But I'd like to see that the money has a chance of doing some good rather than just getting flushed down the drain.

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