Page 11 - WCM 2021 Winter
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 Courtesy Saddleback Mountain
 compensated for lost time in the subsequent season. Being in the position of already performing needed renovations and tailoring them to new safety proto- cols has put Saddleback in the enviable position of being what might be one of the most COVID-safe ski areas in the country this winter. This is on top of the fact that the towns of Rangeley and Oquossuc com- mitted early on to create a COVID-safe environment for the community and visitors. Over 70 area busi- nesses signed on to the “Rangeley Rises” safety pledge.
While these critical upgrades to the lodge and moun- tain are impressive, for Arctaris, it doesn’t end there. As an impact investment fund, they are keen to develop the area in a way that increases opportunity and social equity in the entire community. One of the firm’s founders, Jonathan Tower, was quoted in an Outside Magazine article shortly after the January 31, 2020 acquisition as saying, “Every town Arctaris takes on has lost a major employer. We wanted to be part
of the solution of bringing Rangeley back.” Since the close of the ski area in 2015, the town has seen tour- ist revenues drop a reported 30%, forcing many locals to leave the region to look for employment elsewhere. This has left some area businesses scrambling to find help when they need it most. Monika Liedl, man-
ager of the Red Onion Restaurant, an institution in Rangeley for 50 years, told me that they had to cut back on hours because they couldn’t find enough help to keep things open 7 days a week during the short but lucrative summer tourist season. “It cost me tens of thousands of dollars in business,” she said. She was optimistic about the prospect of the ski area attract- ing a year-round workforce. Pretty much everyone
I talked to in the historic town was excited about the news of the mountain reopening, and looking forward to welcoming back skiers and snowboarders with open arms this winter.
Andy Shepard confirmed that a big part of Arctaris’s plan was to create good paying jobs with benefits, and to develop affordable, eco-friendly housing to make it feasible for outdoor enthusiasts and young families to settle in the area and provide the essential labor force for a four-season economy. Saddleback will employ over 200 workers in the first year, and expects to see that grow as a hotel and other amenities are added. He also outlined plans for a daycare center, and summer programming at the resort to complement the region’s already bustling spring, summer and fall tourist seasons that attract fly fishermen to world class streams. Every trail on the mountain is named after
a fly pattern developed in the area. Canoeists, kayak- 11

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