Granite Peak vital to local economy - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Granite Peak vital to local economy


Skiers and snowboarders aren't the only ones happy to see the slopes on Granite Peak covered in snow. Business owners told Newsline 9 the ski hill is an integral part of the central Wisconsin economy.

Erin Henze and her father made the drive from Neenah to ski Granite Peak for the first official weekend of ski season. The two have season passes and plan to hit the slopes many times in the next few months.

"Usually the weekend, but once in a while just a day," Erin Henze said.

Local business owners said travelers like the Henzes are a big reason why Granite Peak Ski Area is such a vital part of the community.

"It definitely influences our occupancy," Jefferson Street Inn General Manager Debbie Rice said.

She said at least a quarter of the 100 rooms at the hotel are rented out by skiers and snowboarders once the hill opens.

"We really depend heavily on the snow business and the ski area for our first quarter of the year," Rice said.

A manager at the Best Western in Rib Mountain echoed her statements, adding that about 90 percent of rooms are filled by people who are skiing at Granite Peak during the winter months.

"It brings in a whole different customer base that a that a lot of areas aren't able to attract to their community," General Manager Tom Langreck said.

When the runs are open on Rib Mountain, local restaurants also see a surge in business.

"When the parking lot is full at the ski hill, it has a major impact on the way we make our decisions...We get to see an influx of new people here," Wausau Mine Company Owner Tom Wage said.

That's why many businesses are hoping for a long ski season this year. Especially because the season ended early in 2011.

"We definitely felt the impact of not having Granite Peak for that last month of the season," Rice said.

On Saturday, 15 of Granite Peak's 72 runs were open for skiers and snowboarders.

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