Jay Peak’s Bill Stenger Receives 2013 BEWI Award

Posted by Karen Lorentz
Karen Lorentz
Karen Lorentz has written more than 4,000 articles, authored and published eight
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on Monday, 18 November 2013 in Industry News
Reihle, Stenger, Weichsel BEWI AwardBill Stenger, president and co-owner of Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort and Burke Mountain, was honored with the 2013 BEWI Award at a luncheon in Boston during the Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo last week.

Hailed for transforming Jay Peak into a full-fledged, year-round destination resort, Stenger was also recognized for spearheading a partnership in re-developing nearby Burke Mountain as well as the town of Newport. (He purchased Burke in 2012 with business partner and Jay co-owner Ariel Quiros.)

Stenger was also recognized for his efforts on behalf of the U.S. ski industry and serving on various National Ski Areas Association committees and its board.

“Bill Stenger has set the standard in ski-resort development that has enriched our sport, the economy of an entire region, and the lives of resort employees and the local communities,” said Bernie Weichsel, president of BEWI Productions of Waltham, Mass. in presenting the award before some 150 members of the ski industry and media.  

Weichsel added that he has personally “witnessed the personnel benefits Bill brought to Jay  … the humility of the leader … and the atmosphere of being part of a big family.”

Important Contribution

Weichsel, a ski industry promoter and entrepreneur who produces the Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo among other snowsport consumer shows, established the BEWI Award in 1985 to “recognize a ski industry leader who has made an important contribution to the betterment of the industry.”

Cal Conniff, a former long-time president of the National Ski Areas Association, praised Stenger for rebuilding Jay, noting he is also “resurrecting a region known for its poverty; an area where it is hard to make a living.” Citing the economic challenges facing the Northeast Kingdom, Conniff said, “Bill, you have a big heart and I want to thank you for what you’re doing up there.”

Parker Riehle, president of Ski Vermont, the state’s trade association for alpine and Nordic ski areas, also praised Stenger for his humility, stating it is seen whether in parking cars (at the resort) or testifying in Washington.

The latter was a reference to Stenger’s role in getting the state of Vermont designated as an EB-5 region in 1996 and then getting the expiring EB-5 program extended for another three years in 2012. The federal EB-5 (Employment Benefits) program was created in 1993 to stimulate the U.S. economy through foreign investment in projects that would create jobs.

The immigrant investment program offers permanent residency for the investor, a spouse and children in return for a minimum investment of $500,000, provided at least 10 jobs are created or preserved in economically challenged areas. Sugarbush, Haystack, and Mt. Snow are among ski resorts utilizing the EB-5 program for projects in Vermont and Ragged is among areas in New Hampshire.]
Riehle characterized the Jay Peak Renaissance as a significant contribution, adding that other neighboring communities are benefiting, not just Jay Peak, Burke, and Newport … The State of Vermont is lucky to have you,” he said in extending his congratulations.

Stenger responded by regaling the audience with a story of attending his first New York Ski Show. He had a display to unload and take to a booth, but “not too familiar with unions” declined offers of workers to unload it for him, saying, “No, that’s okay” he could handle it. Later, he saw his “car being towed away toward the river,” a sign of the union’s powerful sway with local police, he said. “It was a valuable lesson,” he added.

'Weatherproof' Jay Peak

Stenger’s overriding focus has been to insulate the resort with weather-proof four-season activities that provide stable year-round employment opportunities.

Working with state and other officials, Stenger was able to acquire more than 500 EB-5 investors from 56 countries who each invested $500,000 in Jay projects. As a result, Jay now boasts a golf course with clubhouse/Nordic Center, an indoor ice arena, three hotels, a conference center, 250 additional condominiums, a parking deck, a huge indoor waterpark, and a wedding/events venue. Jay also had its best season ever last year with visits and revenues at all time records.  

There are similar plans to revive Burke Mountain, which has already seen major snowmaking improvements and will break ground for its first hotel in spring 2014, as well as bringing a new waterfront hotel and conference center to the nearby city of Newport.

Today, Stenger remains as passionate about “a world only Alpine skiers know” as he is appreciative of his staff and the opportunity to bring capital to a region he clearly loves. The BEWI Award is recognition of the difference his vision and dedication have made.

Photo: L-R, Parker Reihle, Vermont Ski Areas Association; Bill Stenger, Jay Peak/Buke Mt.; Bernie Weichsel, BEWI Productions. (Karen Lorentz)

Karen Lorentz has written more than 4,000 articles, authored and published eight books, and edited three. She is a freelance writer for business publications, magazines, and The Mountain Times newspaper in Vermont.


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