All posts by Vanessa Olivo

Planning For The Expected Influx of Tourism to The County

Last updated on October 30th, 2018

As Sullivan County is experiencing a resurgence of tourism development, the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) is at the forefront of strategically preparing its members for the expected influx of visitors to the area and the region.

As the official legislative tourism promotion agency (TPA) for the county, SCVA works with other state TPAs, New York State Division of Tourism, stakeholders and partners to steer domestic and international travelers to upstate New York.

As the gateway from New York City (top visited city in the U.S.) to the Catskills, Sullivan County is positioned to welcome visitors from around the globe.

Only 90 minutes from New York City, it is easily accessible for those who want to venture out of the city and experience authentic beauty; world-class cuisine; unique inns; and, award winning wineries, breweries, and distilleries as well as its distinctive attractions such as Bethel Woods, the Delaware River, Resorts World Casino and Yo1 Wellness Center.

Since 2009, the Sullivan Catskills has seen an upsurge of 20 percent in visitor spending. Tourism will continue to grow to a new level as the increased interest in Resorts World Catskills, Yo1 Wellness Center, the Kartrite and as additional development progresses in the next three years.

Due to this increase, Roberta Byron-Lockwood, President/ CEO of the SCVA and her team are preparing their members for the influx of visitors by providing visitor readiness trainings that include Hospitality, Social Media, and Market Ready Seminars.

To do this, SCVA is developing educational programing that will give their members a competitive edge.

“Our goal is to make every visitor who comes to the Sullivan Catskills have an exceptional experience,” said Byron-Lockwood. “Great customer service is the key to visitors returning to a destination year-after year.

“This is why the curriculum in all of our programs is geared towards us preparing members’ front line staff to upper level management. We want them to be tourism ready!” Byron-Lockwood continued. “We want them to be prepared.”

New programs consist of Hospitality, Social Media and China Ready Workshops. All classes were offered in spring 2018 with up to 50 members attending each seminar, with more classes planned for 2018-2019.

The educational program can be customized to suit the needs and interests of members. For more information on future trainings, contact the SCVA at 845- 747-4449.

Hospitality Training: The workshop is based on time-tested best practices and sound methodologies that facilitate exceptional customer service and leadership. SCVA is conducting this program in partnership with the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce.

Social Media Training: This program focuses on social media 101 or for those who need to brush up on their skills, this 2-hour workshop informs how to optimize profile pages, use hashtags, create and schedule content, utilize Facebook events, tell your story, and more.

China Readiness: The seminar aimed to educate tourism stakeholders on the value of promoting the Catskill Region to the International and Domestic Chinese market.

In addition to the Chinese being the fastest growing visitors to the U.S. they also spend more than another type of traveler.

For this reason, the workshop focused on how to work with Chinese operators, prepare for Chinese arrivals; and, attract the Chinese to their businesses.

Presenters were experts on the domestic and international Chinese travel & trade market. The speakers were: Markly Wilson, Director of International Marketing, I Love New York, Top Dong, Director of Travel Trade, I Love NY China, Fanny Lawren, I Love NY Chinese Consultant and well established tour operators from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

For more information on the SCVA’s tourism marketing programs contact Lori Solomon at ljs@scva.net. For more information on membership contact Holly Gassler at hlg@scva.net or call 845-747-4449.

Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association Prepares Members For Influx of Chinese Visitors

Last updated on October 30th, 2018

According to a new study by Oxford Economics, the surge in visitors from China will continue into the next few years, with New York expected to see a nearly 200 percent increase.

Within the next five years, New York is expected to host 1.17 million Chinese visitors, a 196 percent increase over 2013. New York and Los Angeles are presently the top destinations for Chinese visitors to the U.S. and are projected to hold this position well into 2023.

The study also indicates that Chinese arrivals are estimated to increase to nearly 97 million, a growth rate of 5.1 percent by 2023.

The increase in Chinese visitors is due to the growth of the Chinese middle class and their desire to experience other cultures and well-known international destinations.

The Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) aims to attract a piece of this market and drive tourism dollars to its member businesses. This initiative builds on the existing domestic and international marketing and promotion programs SCVA is cultivating within the U.K. Ireland, Germany and Australia.

“The Sullivan Catskills has what Chinese visitors are looking for,” stated Roberta Byron-Lockwood, President/CEO of the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association.

“They want quality, authentic and sophisticated experiences that include outdoor adventure, picturesque views, health and well-being opportunities, gaming, exceptional cuisine and nice hotels, local culture and much more,” she said.

“We have it all here and we are only 90 minutes from New York City! As a gateway destination to the Catskill Region, we are well positioned to welcome the growing number of Chinese travelers who want to experience more of New York,” she said.

In preparation for the influx of Chinese visitors the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association, in collaboration with New York State Division of Tourism (I Love New York), recently hosted a Visitor Readiness Workshop for its members at Resorts World Catskills.

The seminar aimed to educate tourism stakeholders on the value of promoting the Catskill Region to the International and Domestic Chinese market. In addition to the Chinese being the fastest growing visitor group to the U.S., they spend more than any another traveler.

For this reason, the workshop focused on how to work with Chinese tour operators, prepare for Chinese arrivals, and attract the Chinese to their businesses.

Presenters were experts on the domestic and international Chinese travel and trade market – Markly Wilson, Director of International Marketing, I Love New York, Top Dong, Director of Travel Trade, I Love NY China, Fanny Lawren, I Love NY Chinese Consultant and well-established tour operators from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

The workshop was attended by approximately fifty businesses and attractions from Sullivan County. The content was well received and SCVA will follow-up with its members on the next steps to attract this market.

Immediately after the presentation, the Chinese delegates and representatives from I Love New York were shown some of the best-of-the-best places to stay, eat and experience in the Sullivan Catskills – visiting member business in Callicoon, Bethel, Narrowsburg and Barryville. The objective for their familiarization tour was for the operators to create a Sullivan Catskills tour with packages consisting of lodging, restaurants and attractions and sell them to their clients. In turn, they will drive dollars into our local economy.

The operators were fascinated with the beauty and tourism attractions they experienced while in Sullivan County. Jimmy Xiaoke, Product Manager of Chongqing Grand China Express International Travel Service stated, “Sullivan Catskills is beautiful and fun.

I did not expect it to be this beautiful. The Sullivan Catskills has what the Chinese are looking for!” Many questions were asked and the operators were fully engaged when shown the lodging properties and attractions.

The Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association will continue to work with I Love New York, Chinese tour operators and its members on the China Tourism Program.

They are already working on a strategy for follow-up and creating a China Readiness booklet that will instruct members on how to work with Chinese travelers and tour operators.

The workbook will include information on Chinese customs, product development and promotion to this market.

For more information on how to become a member of the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association, contact Holly Gasssler at hlg@scva.net.

To learn more on the China Tourism Program, contact Lori Solomon, Director of Business Development at ljs@scva.net or 845-747-4449.

Arthur Glick Celebrates 50 Years of Business

Last updated on October 30th, 2018

Glick Auto and Truck Sales is celebrating 50 years in business. The family-owned and operated business opened in Monticello, in the same location it is today, in 1968. Current president Arthur Glick founded the dealership and service center with his wife Diane, whom everyone called Chicki.

When it opened, Arthur Glick sold only GMC trucks. The facility was small and had four employees. Since then the business has considerably expanded. The current facility is 28,000 square feet on 25 acres of land, and there are 28 employees.

In addition to GMC, they also sell Hyundai, Kenworth Trucks and Trailstar dump trailers. In fact, they are the oldest Kenworth dealer east of the Mississippi, a fact that Arthur is proud of, “It says we didn’t come and go,” he said. Glick Leasing Ltd. is an affiliate catering to medium duty and heavy duty trucks providing full-service leasing. The fleet has approximately 50 units at all time.

Now, Arthur runs the business with his son, Todd, who is vice president, and his daughter, Barri, who runs the parts management team.

“There’s never a time there isn’t a Glick on the premises,” Arthur likes to say.

The business has grown over the years, but it has also faced some setbacks. In 1998 the building was completely destroyed by fire. They had to rebuild, which took two years, and during that time they operated out of rented office trailers and a service facility in Monticello.

Arthur says very recently there has been a spike in business, which he largely accredits to the new Resorts World Catskills casino, located very near to the Glick facility.

“The casino has provided additional sales and it will get bigger,” he said.

Before Arthur opened his own business, he worked at his father’s business, Murray Glick Auto Sales, and became a partner.

But soon after he ventured out on his own.

Now a successful businessman, Arthur has served on the General Motors National Dealer Council and was vice president of the National GMC Dealers Association.

He was born and raised in the area, and attended Monticello High School.

By Isabel Braverman

YO1 Set to Open This Week

Last updated on October 30th, 2018

Thursday, June 21 is not only the first day of summer but also International Yoga Day. And what better way to celebrate than by attending the Grand Opening of Sullivan County’s world-class luxury Nature Cure resort – YO1.

“We consider June 21 a very auspicious day,” YO1 Marketing Manager, Abhiruchi Jain said. “The event is from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and is open to public- strictly based on RSVPs.”

There will be a special address by the Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi (via livestream) as YO1 becomes the first of its kind Nature Cure destination in the United States.

Located at 420 Anawana Lake Rd. in Monticello, the six-story hotel is ready for guests with finely appointed amenities to spoil even the most discerning travelers.

“We are open,” Jain said. “All departments are in place and we are taking reservations.”

With 139 staff set across multiple departments, the hotel can accommodate up to 250 guests in its 131 rooms.

To make sure guests are treated with a minimal of waiting, there are 36 message rooms, 40+ hydrotherapy rooms, a fitness center complete with dozens of pieces of equipment and an aerobics pool and hot tubs.

“Fitness is a very big part of everyone’s lifestyle,” Jain said. “We offer many different types of healthy choices, from the fitness room to the swimming pool, and walking or jogging on our nature trails,” she said.

“We customize the visit for each guest,” Jain said. “Taking into consideration their diet, health concerns and lifestyle.”

YO1 will feature Eastern Holistic therapies from India, aimed at helping people develop a lifestyle change to enhance their life.

“It takes a certain commitment from the guest’s side,” Jain said. “We also add the educational component.”

YO1 will help teach its guests how to cook healthy meals in its Showcase Kitchen and guest lecturers will talk to guest in the indoor theater, which seats more than 200.

The hotel will also feature a museum which will help guests learn about the history of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy.
“It’s going to be spectacular,” Jain promised. “It is very interactive and guests will be able to learn about themselves and our therapies.”

To know more about YO1, visit their website at yo1.com.

By Fred Stabbert III

Revitalizing Jeffersonville’s Main Street one business at a time

Last updated on June 26th, 2018

Tavern on Main opened last fall and has quickly become a fixture on Jeffersonville’s Main Street. That’s exactly what owners Lauren Seikaly and Michael Huber intended – a place for the community to not only gather, but also sit and stay awhile.

Now, the husband-and-wife duo are expanding their business. They purchased surrounding properties and plans are already underway to create a new event space and bakery.

Seikaly said they receive many phone calls from people who want to hold private events. But the restaurant isn’t quite big enough to fit them. So, 52 and Vine, the wine and liquor store that they own next door, will be moving, and they will turn that space into a private dining room. They recently bought the house next door to Tavern on Main, which belonged to the Erdman family for over 100 years.

The house has a barn and building in the back, which used to be Brandenburg Bakery. This house will now be 52 and Vine, and the current liquor store will be turned into a private dining room.

In addition, Seikaly and Huber bought the building across the street that used to be the Jacob Epstein Law office. The couple had always admired the building and was sad to see it in deteriorating condition. So they bought it. Unfortunately, the building was in such bad shape that it could not be saved, and it had to be torn down. The couple will start constructing a new building that will be a bakery and café.

“The mission is to bring people out of their homes and bring them together,” Seikaly said of the planned bakery. “We want an environment where people can meet friends there and sit by the fire.” It will be called the Jeffersonville Baking Company, which is a nod to the past as there was a business in town called the Jeffersonville Supply Company. The second floor will be used as a large event space, where people can rent the space to be used for anything from a rehearsal dinner to a baby shower.

Construction will begin this summer and they hope to open the bakery in the fall. It will offer baked goods as well as healthier options.

“We think of it as being able to come in and buy fresh bread but also a place where kids can come after school to do their homework, or moms can come in while their kids are at soccer practice,” Seikaly said.

On Memorial Day Weekend a beer garden opened in the backyard of Tavern on Main. It offers German beers and food, like bratwurst. Every Friday of the summer it will host a clambake with lobster, oysters and of course, clams. Sprinkles, the ice cream shop, also opened on Memorial Day weekend.

With four businesses already open and a fourth on the way, Seikaly and Huber have bolstered the Jeffersonville business community and are taking part in the revitalization of a town once almost entirely shut down.

This community activism is a change for Seikaly and her husband. The couple still lives full-time in the city and has a country house seven minutes outside of town.

Seikaly was an actress and had a 15-year career in theater and acting. Much of her time was dedicated to an all-female improv comedy show that she produced. In 2013 she found out that she had breast cancer so she took a break from work, and started focusing her time on non-profit endeavors and her kid’s school. Her husband owns a private equity firm.

The couple discovered the area after September 11, when they wanted an escape from the city. Seikaly described how, after the terrible events of 9/11, they were walking around their neighborhood in the West Village in a daze, when they came across pictures of houses for sale.

They originally bought a house in Ferndale, but bought their current house in Jeffersonville in 2011. The couple’s two daughters, ages 9 and 11, still go to school in the city but they come up on weekends and Seikaly and the kids spend their whole summers here.

Now they are gearing up for a busy summer season and continuing work on their new ventures.

“We believe in the future of Jeffersonville,” Seikaly said. “The Tavern has shown there is a positive future ahead.”

By Isabel Braverman

What is The County of Sullivan IDA?

Last updated on October 30th, 2018

1969 New York State passed legislation providing for the creation of industrial development agencies (IDAs) to facilitate economic development in specific localities throughout the State. Today there is an IDA in every county in New York State, and many towns, cities and villages also have IDAs.

The County of Sullivan IDA was proposed by Sullivan County in 1970 and authorized into existence by the State of New York later that same year. Like all industrial development agencies, the

County of Sullivan IDA works to promote, encourage, attract, and develop job and recreational opportunities and economically sound commerce and industry. We do this by providing financial incentives to eligible companies seeking to locate and expand here in Sullivan County.

The County of Sullivan IDA’s Uniform Tax Exempt Policy describes the requirements a company must meet in order to be eligible for IDA assistance. We have an array of programs targeting various industries including tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and others.

A business seeking assistance must submit an application and cost-benefit analysis, which are reviewed by the IDA’s Board of Directors before approval.

The IDA can provide three types of tax incentives to approved projects.

  • We can offer property tax relief from county, school, and town or village taxes resulting from an increase in assessed value due to new construction or expansion.
  • We can also offer a sales tax exemption on purchases, leases, and rentals of materials, furniture, fixtures, equipment, and supplies to be used for the company’s construction or expansion project.
  • Finally, we can exempt mortgage recording taxes in instances where a mortgage is required to finance the company’s project.

    Real Property Tax Abatements
    Real property tax abatements are perhaps the best-known form of IDA assistance. When a company undertakes new construction or expands its existing facility, the assessed value of the property increases, and the taxes go up.

    If the company is approved for an IDA real property tax abatement, the property is removed from the tax rolls, and the company and the IDA enter into a Payment in Lieu of Taxation (PILOT) agreement.

    Under the PILOT agreement, the new tax obligation resulting from the
    increased assessment is phased in over a specified number of years. The company makes annual PILOT payments to the IDA, and the IDA distributes one hundred percent of those payments to the county, school district, town, and village, if applicable.

    Importantly, the IDA does not abate the taxes on the pre-construction assessed value of the property. A company’s PILOT payment includes the value of pre-construction taxes, as well as a portion of the new taxes based on the post-construction assessed value.

    The annual PILOT payments increase over time, so that near the end of the PILOT term the company’s payment approaches the amount of full taxes that would be due without IDA assistance. After the end of the PILOT term, the property is returned to the tax rolls and
    the company pays full taxes.

    By providing tax incentives during the startup and expansion phase, the IDA helps companies to improve their cash flow during this critical time of growth.

    During 2017 we administered 48 PILOT projects, collecting over $4,600,000 in PILOT payments and disbursing those monies to the County of Sullivan and its towns, villages, and school districts.

    These 48 companies reported over 2,100 full-time equivalent employees during 2017.

    Currently our largest and best-known projects include the Resorts World Catskills Casino and the Yo1 Wellness Center in the Town of Thompson.

    But we also assist dozens of smaller firms including law offices, food manufacturers, craft beverage producers, and many others.

    We continue to adapt in response to the county’s changing business climate, and in recent years we have added two new tax incentive programs: one targeting commercial solar electricity generating facilities, and one targeting the arts industry.

    As the county’s economy continues to change and develop, we look forward to working with its increasingly diverse business community. For more information on the County of Sullivan IDA’s mission and work, please contact us at 845-295-2603.

    By Jennifer Flad
    Executive Director, County Of Sullivan Industrial Development Agency

Meet The New Leaders of Sullivan County

Last updated on October 30th, 2018

“Whatever it takes!” is the motto of this year’s Leadership Sullivan class. The program expands leadership potential of participants through educational platforms designed to broaden
individual’s knowledge of the county, improve communication skills, and increase organization and problem solving skills.

Recently, the class and members of the community gathered at the Villa Roma for a graduation ceremony. The keynote speaker was Sullivan County Deputy County Manager Dan DePew. He spoke about how all successful people have gone through hardships and failures, but they came out stronger and went on to succeed.

Leadership Sullivan is a non-partisan program that relies on support from the business community to reach its goals. The program is coordinated through the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, a not-forprofit corporation. “We aim to take professionals and help expose them to what the county has to offer,” said Karen Russell, Chair of the Sullivan County Chamber Foundation. “In turn they contribute their time. It’s full circle.”

The 10-month program begins with a two-day retreat where participants discuss leadership and do team-building exercises. From there, they learn about the many facets of life in Sullivan County: agriculture and tourism; crime and justice system; media and communications; health and human services; government and politics; economic development; education; environmental; and quality of life.

The message of “whatever it takes!” could be seen through the class project. Every year participants of Leadership Sullivan must complete a class project, and this year they worked on the Rails to Trails walking trails in Parksville and Hurleyville. The team pulled a boat from the water that has been there for over 10 years, a nuisance to residents. A video presented at the graduation showed the team clearing the trails, pulling the boat from the water, and local residents who use the trails commending their work.

Class President Campbell Lumbila, when he addressed the audience, spoke about what they have learned in the program. “We have learned that tourism is making a comeback and it’s not just about the casino,” he said. “It’s about the bed and breakfast places, the small businesses on Broadway in Monticello and the revitalization of Main Street in Hurleyville.” He went on to list many other positive things in the county.

He then listed reasons why the county needs leaders. “We need leaders because the median income in Monticello is $26,000 and 25 percent of houses are vacant. We need leaders who will face the opioid epidemic head-on and give hope to the hopeless and find innovative solutions to the problem. You see, we need leaders because leaders solve problems. Leaders think outside the box. Leaders do ‘the other thing.’ That’s why Leadership Sullivan exists.”

At the end of the ceremony, each class member received a diploma. Class Facilitator Karen Ellsweig said she was very proud of the students. “We had a tremendous class this year,” she said. “Everybody gave two-hundred percent.”

By Isabel Braverman