Smoke impacting local businesses

Fire Season 2019: For the latest updates on fires buring in our region, go here: Fire Season 2019.

MEDFORD, Ore. — With all the wildfires this summer in Southern Oregon, many businesses across the Rogue Valley are taking a hit.

It’s especially difficult for the industries that rely on summer tourism to turn a profit.

“I saw the lighting and I thought, okay…this could be it,” said Shelly Tauriainen, owner of Raft Rite Rentals.

Shelly Tauriainen has owned Raft Rite Rentals in Shady Cove for 26 years. She’s lived in Shady Cove her whole life and says she’s never seen the smoke as bad as this summer.

“We like to see our people come in…and it’s kind of sad to see everything drop off so fast,” she said.

Tauriainen says they usually make around $30,000 during the summer months. But this year, she says business is down 50 percent.

“Fifty percent…you know, you make plans for the future…,” she said.

And hers is not the only business suffering.

“We’ve had groups cancel, we’ve had the visiting baseball team here to play the Medford Rogues cancel, employees that can’t come to work because of respiratory problems,” said
Bruce Hoevet, General Manager of the Rogue Regency Inn in Medford.

He says summer is usually there busiest season, but this summer they’ve lost over $120,000 dollars.

Last year it was more than $200,000.

“I think the problem is one time is alright, two times people are going to let it slide, third time people are going to decide maybe they don’t want to come down to Southern Oregon anymore because of the fires…,” said Hoevet.

Both Tauriainen and Hoevet say they’re hoping things improve by next summer. For the time being, they’re making due with their situations.

“We’re just dealing everyday with the cancellation of business that might happen,” said Hoevet.

“You know it could be worse. It really could be worse…it could have hit the town…,” said Taruriainen.

According to Travel Oregon, tourism is a nearly $12 billion industry in the state. It’s estimated the state lost about $51 million in tourism revenue during last year’s fires.

But that number doesn’t even include this year’s fires yet.

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