Schumer introduces Rural Outdoor Investment Act in Canandaigua

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WHEC) — Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Canandaigua on Thursday to introduce his new Rural Outdoor Investment Act, which aims to help bring millions of dollars to the Finger Lakes Region.

It’s still too early to determine just how much money would reach the Finger Lakes, but it would be used for more than just tourism. Schumer said it includes investing in things like outdoor recreation facilities.

"So many of our communities have great waterfronts, but access is limited because of a lack of boat ramps, boardwalks, or other outdoor facilities," Schumer said.

He went on to say out of the American Rescue Plan which passed in March, $750 million is earmarked for travel, and tourism. Out of that New York State could receive as much as $45 million. Other parts of his act include "planning" to support communities that want to grow their outdoor opportunities, and help to create more jobs. Lastly, "Business Assistance," which would help existing businesses expand or grow. County leaders are thrilled with the idea.

"Outdoor recreation and the quality of life that it provides to our residents is a huge component of our economic development efforts, and why Ontario County continues to be a growing community," said Ontario County Administrator Chris DeBolt.

Finger Lakes Visitors Connection’s Valerie Knoblauch added, "This gives us a great opportunity to create plans, and serve people even more, and reinforces our concept of what a wonderful place to live, work, and play."

Schumer said the pandemic increased tourism and outdoor recreation throughout the state, but it’s the Finger Lakes that keep people coming back.

"For us to be able to have this degree of focus, and resources and potential all come together with somebody like Senator Schumer who’s been such a good friend for so long, it’s really, I feel like we’re right on the starting line of something really new, and really fresh," said Ontario County Chamber of Commerce President Ethan Fogg.

The Finger Lakes Visitors Connection reports that visitors spent more than $152 million pre-pandemic. This helped contribute more than $3 billion to the region’s tourism industry.