It certainly is depressing to hear that the employment picture in Carbon County is so harsh.
So it is hard to understand why, in such a brutal job market, with no realistic solutions in sight, that local tourism isn't seen as part of the answer rather than treated as some sort of nuisance.
In my role with the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce I have often heard the statement that we're just talking about "downtown businesses." It is this short-sightedness which helps explain why the bad jobs picture is so entrenched here in Carbon County.
Tourism isn't just about restaurant and other support jobs. It's about sustainable work for accountants, attorneys, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, handymen, title searchers and many other skilled workers. They help support families, and create an employment picture that encourages bright local youth to stay in Carbon County, rather than relocate elsewhere in search of opportunity.
These are concepts that are taught in our high schools, and really ought be apparent to anyone paying attention.
It isn't right to grumble about out-of-towners when they are spending such significant dollars in this county. Yes, we all understand that traffic can be an annoyance on weekends in Jim Thorpe. But those traffic jams in the middle of the week aren't the fault of tourists, and are evidence of the lack of workable plans to support increased visitation while making it easier for residents to get around.
County officials anywhere in the United States would love to have our so-called tourist problem. At a minimum, in any kind of job market, much less the one Mr. Gower describes, tourism should be seen as an industry and the source of good opportunities for our residents. It should be carefully nurtured and developed so that jobs are created now.
Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce