Dan Ripke, director of Chico State Center for Economic Development (CED), has announced his agency is working to bring additional economic development resources to businesses affected by the Chips Fire.
Direct impacts to the travel and tourism industry are likely to exceed $8 million in Plumas County alone.
Ripke acknowledged the mop-up by government agencies and contract fire personnel will provide some economic activity.
Ripke said, “Preliminary research indicates when this tourism season is over and the smoke clears, the business sector, local and state tax revenues and retail commercial spending will affect the fragile economy of Plumas County.”
“Vacationers have made a mass exodus; snowbirds that will normally stay until late October are packing up and leaving for the winter and cleaner air.
“Local chambers of commerce report that they have lost the hunters, golfers, hikers, campers and bikers. Communities like Lake Almanor have canceled two big events.
“We won’t be smokeless till the snow flies.”
Ripke admits an in-depth analysis will be necessary to gauge the total impacts on the Plumas County economy.
In Plumas County, where travel and tourism is the second largest industry and an economic mainstay for towns such as Greenville and Lake Almanor, it is difficult to gauge how the fires have affected second home owners spooked by blazes that have produced a smoky haze and led to road blockages.
Lodging providers, such as Valerie Nellor of Ada’s Place in Quincy, said she has had dozens of calls asking about air quality condition and accessibility.
Ripke outlined several proactive steps his agency is taking to bring attention to the impacts and to assist local chambers, job training agencies and businesses, including briefings to Small Business Administration’s regional and national offices.
At the request of the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration Ripke and his agency staff are beginning to calculate the economic impacts and make a case for federal and state economic development funding designated by a presidential emergency declaration.
Ripke has asked Interim Assistant Director Greg O’Sullivan to work with local agencies in all fire-impacted counties of the upstate California region.
CED partners, such as Sierra Economic Development District (Auburn), Superior California Economic Development District (Redding), 3Core (Chico), the local Small Business Development Program and the Alliance for Workforce Development, provide valuable job training and employment services to unemployed and dislocated workers.
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