Good economic news has been difficult if not impossible to find over the past few years. Gas prices rise every day. Food prices are on the rise as well, all while the dollar's value continues to drop. Unemployment hovers around 8 percent.
Now we are dealing with the sky-is-falling sequestration debate.
It's getting awfully old.
This week we finally see a glimmer of hope, however, in our corner of the world. One of the first signs that things might finally be turning the corner is construction of any kind. In the Valley, especially on the Routes 11/15 corridor, construction has certainly been apparent with hotels popping up left and right.
Initially, questions arise as to why the Susquehanna Valley needs so many new hotel rooms. How many times a year do they reach capacity, or even approach it? Without thinking too much, the options seem limited: Parents weekends at the two local universities, the PIAA Swimming & Diving Championships and a couple of wine festivals.
Now we hear from Andrew Miller, director of the Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau, that there is much more to it.
People who live here know the Valley has always been a special place and always will be. Now outsiders are noticing as well. A recent survey by the visitor's bureau reported that their first trip to the Susquehanna exceeded their expectations.
For that reason, they are coming back in droves -- hotel revenue in Snyder County is up nearly $30,000 in three years -- and tourists don't just stay in hotels, they shop in our downtowns, eat in our restaurants. The Valley's events, from the River and Iron Heritage festivals to Mayfest Wine Festival, continue to grow each year and each one brings another opportunity to draw in visitors, show them a welcome face and invite repeat business.
In that respect, we all have a role to play.
"The towns are the draw," Miller said this week. "Any town thinking of putting on an event should know that people will come for it."
In today's climate, these are all certainly positive signs for the Susquehanna Valley and its economy.
People who own and build hotels are smart people and they would not be building them across the Valley if there were not market potential. We are filling that significant need and each building is another step in the right direction.