ASHLAND, Ore.– Summer is almost over and already the Rogue Valley is seeing relief from the smoke that has choked the local economy. For businesses in Ashland, it’s a symbiotic relationship between them and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – one of the main driving factors of the economy for the city.
“We recognize how interconnected we all are and how much we all need each other to succeed,” said Julie Cortez, communications manager of OSF.
If OSF struggles so do many restaurants, hotels and other local businesses that depend on those tourism dollars. With a very slow summer this year, businesses are left wondering what to do this winter.
“Anytime, you know, this time of year is impacted it makes it so it’s really really hard for places to stay open,” said Jeremy Selinger.
The word around town among businesses, especially restaurants, is it’s been one of the worst summer seasons for Ashland businesses.
“As for us, we saw probably about 5 percent dip but from what I’ve heard around town most places are about 30 percent or more,” said Selinger.
At Taqueria Picaro, the summer season was slow but as a business that counts on a strong local following, it hopes things will be manageable this fall and winter.
“We are so local oriented when the tourism season passes and the summer passes,” said Selinger, “A lot more of our locals come out then because they don’t expect us to be as busy.”
The world renowned OSF, on the other hand, isn’t quite so lucky. The company had a rough summer losing an estimated $2 million from the smoke and canceling or moving 26 shows from it’s outdoor Elizabethan stage. But the company understands how it’s struggles effect the rest of the city.
“Definitely encouraging our patrons to come and to help out our local businesses as well and go and have meals and do their shopping and consider a late season rafting trip,” said Cortez.
Summer is a vital time for many local businesses.
“They try to make their money for the rest of the year during this time of the season and so it’s really hard for them to stay open and be effective in the off season,” said Selinger.
With slower months coming, some restaurants may struggle this winter. While the weather may clear up for these last couple months of OSF’s season, some say it might not be enough to help many businesses make up what was lost during July and August.
“Every year typically, you’ll see a few businesses that fail to plan for the off season come and go,” said Selinger, “This year I think it’s gonna be one of the worst that we’ve had.”