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Locals are hopeful tourism push will help business in Cooperstown

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Locals are hopeful tourism push will help business in Cooperstown
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Thursday's presidential visit was part of a big year for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's celebrating its 75th anniversary. And while the hall of fame draws a lot of visitors to the area, as Alana LaFlore explains, local business owners are hoping the president's new tourism push will send that number even higher.

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Nearly 300,000 visitors grace the hall of fame with their presence every year. But that's not always enough. Many businesses are still struggling to bounce back from the recession.

"We only have a very short season here. Lately the last 5 to10 years it's been hard to stay running. There's a lot of competition. Every year a couple of businesses go under," said FR Woods House of Pro Sports Manager Ainsley McCall.

Business owners say they hope Obama's visit and emphasis will build a year round industry. Each year, Otsego County draws $160 million in revenue from tourism. That's partly due to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. But there are several other attractions like the Farmers Museum and Ommegang Brewery that locals hope will draw visitors and more money.

"There's so many things to do here recreationally and culturally. All of them working together is what makes it special and contributes to the great number of Tourists that visit each time," said Brewery Ommegang General Manager Bill Wetmore.

For security purposes, some businesses near the hall of fame were asked to shut down for the day. Others were able to stay open and the say the day of low sales will be worth it.

"A lot of locals stay away just to make sure everything goes smoothly. But I was sure that after the fact there would be a big rebound from it just because he brings excitement from the area," said Jason Long, Schneider's Bakery owner.

Long runs a bakery that has been in his family since 1950. It's the kind of small business that thrives on tourism. He also used the presidential visit as a chance to possibly gain attention for a cause he believes in: anti-hydrofracking.

"I'm concerned about the food. You know what I mean? What were gonna do with food if all the water gets ruined," Long said.

Regardless of political agendas or affiliations, Obama's visit left small businesses feeling appreciated as vital part to the US economy.

"Hard work and entrepreneurship are what's helped them build his country, it's important to pay attention to us," Long said.

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