Greek Peak's warming up local economy

By Kelly McCarthy

January 9, 2014 Updated Jan 10, 2014 at 12:35 AM EDT

Town of Virgil, NY (WBNG Binghamton) As the new owners focus on building up the mountain at Greek Peak, nearby businesses are also feeling some impacts off the investments.

Marc Stemerman and John Meier put the final piece onto the new $2.2 million quad chair lift during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday.

The Visions Express Quad Chairlift is just one of 17 different construction projects going on in the past eight months.

"John and I, back in April, made a commitment to the skier and snowboarder to improve the hill," Stemerman said, "And that's what we aim to do, and continue forward with new investments that will enhance the skier snowboarder experience here."

It's the first new ski lift at Greek Peak in 35 years and the new owners hope it sends a positive message to visitors of the mountain.

"Look, we made these investments, these are life long investments," Stemerman said, "You don't pay for them up front. John and I are going to be here for a long time and our families are going to be here for a long time."

It's a message that's also being heard by nearby business owners. The owner of Hollenbeck's Cider Mill is no stranger to serving skiers and snowboarders, even though his business has nothing to do with the snow.

"We've always been partial to the local people, because they're always here. The skiers are a little icing on the cake. It's weather related," said Bruce Hollenbeck.

He's expecting the new owners and new investments at Greek Peak will only bring in more traffic to his cider mill.

"I think it's positive," Hollenbeck said, "I think it can only be good for the whole area."

Hollenbeck isn't the only one who thinks that way. The Virgil Country Market saw big business when construction crews were working on the mountain.

"If they need something and see our store they will stop and pick up a few things," said owner Sue Stevens, "Either on their way to or on their way home."

Greek Peak employs about 800 people and they're expecting to see about 200,000 visitors this winter season. Store owners nearby said if they had to take a guess, Greek Peak would make up about half of their business.

"And that's good for all of us, even if you don't ski," said (R) James Seward, NYS 51st Senate, "The fact that there's a ripple effect throughout the economy is beneficial to everyone."

In the past eight months Greek Peak spent about $5 million on 18 different projects.

"Everything the new owners have done has been a tremendous positive for the area," said Bob Haight, Executive Director of the Cortland Chamber of Commerce, "Like I said it's not only dollars coming into the area but people's attitudes have been just great toward Greek Peak."

Business owners down the road hope more people take notice to what's happening at the resort.

"The more people who go there, the more people we get here," Stevens said.

According to the I Love NY campaign, one in 12 jobs in Upstate is in tourism. New York State has 54 ski areas. that's more than any other state in the country.