Schoharie Valley Association back in the game


By Jim Poole

Quiet the past few years, the Schoharie Valley Association is gearing up to again promote tourism and other Valley businesses.
The once-active SVA is drawing in new members––for free––and plans an aggressive campaign to bring customers to the Schoharie Valley this year.
“We all help each other now,” said Lin Quinn of Under the Nose in Middleburgh. “But if we start up SVA again, we’ll become a larger entity. It’s good for business.”
Josh Loden of the Apple Barrel in Schoharie is SVA’s president. Plans came together to revive the organization a few months ago.
SVA’s target area, he said, is the Route 30 corridor from the New York Power Authority in Blenheim to Esperance, and five miles on either side of that route.
Members identified 108 businesses, and SVA will offer free membership to all of them, tourism-related or not.
Also, those businesses will be included in a brochure––again, free of charge––distributed to visitors this summer and fall.
“It’s an initial act of good faith to get us going,” Mr. Loden said, “We want to create momentum at the grass-roots level.
“And we also want to demonstrate what the Valley has to offer.”
Money to pay for the brochure, which will be a ‘passport’ visitors can take to businesses to qualify for prizes, are coming from SVA’s existing funds.
Interest in the Valley Association waned when the County Chamber of Commerce took over tourism promotion several years ago, Mr. Loden said. Members felt goals of the two groups overlapped.
Kurt Pelton, who’s working on the passport and is involved in the SVA, added that sometimes longtime members in a volunteer group get worn out and there’s not enough energy to keep going.
Now there is.
“This re-start comes with the feeling, ‘Let’s help each other,’ ” Mr. Pelton said. “That’s smart.”
Part of the impetus stems from a belief that county government, now handling tourism promotion, lacks private-sector expertise and isn’t doing enough.
“We’re not sure they [government] are able to do a lot,” Ms. Quinn said. “We want to do something to help ourselves. We’re professionals and we know our businesses.”
After this year, Mr. Loden said, there will likely be a cost for membership. Also, looking ahead, SVA will meet in August to plan a promotion campaign for 2020.
Mr. Loden has other plans, too. He suggested SVA could work with similar active groups––Colonial Heritage Association, Historical Society, Schoharie Promotional Association and others––to host large events.
“Maybe we work together with Colonial Heritage’s antique show [in September] and build out from there,” Mr. Loden said.
The immediate focus, however, is re-starting the Valley Association.
“We want to show what this organization can do,” Mr. Loden said.