A Closer Look At Sununu's Claim He Created 'Hundreds of Jobs' At Waterville Valley

Oct 20, 2016

Credit Friends of Chris Sununu

If you’ve tuned into local news stations lately, you might’ve spotted Chris Sununu’s first TV ad of the general election.

A few seconds in, Sununu, the Republican nominee for governor, talks up his business experience at the helm of Waterville Valley Ski Resort, where he’s served as CEO since his family bought the resort in 2010.

“The truth is, as CEO of Waterville Valley, I’ve expanded the business, and created hundreds of good-paying jobs,” Sununu says in the ad.

But, according to information provided by Sununu’s campaign to NHPR earlier this year, the overall number of jobs at Waterville Valley has actually decreased over the last five years. There were 872 employees at the resort in 2011 and, after several years of fluctuation, 809 employees in 2015.

(See below for more details on the staffing levels at Waterville Valley in recent years.)

Sununu, when asked Thursday about where he’s coming up with the “hundreds of good-paying jobs” he cites in the ad, chalked up the discrepancies to the dynamics of a changing business.

  “The overall numbers of jobs that you saw really account for all of the different pieces of our business, all of the different subdivisions and whatnot there. But in a businesslike mind, you have to be dynamic. You’re constantly creating new avenues, new opportunities for your guests, new revenue opportunities,” Sununu said. “We’ve also consolidated. It’s a matter of moving people around and being dynamic in your business. It’s not just a matter of saying, well, we had 800 jobs today so now we have 1,000 jobs tomorrow.”

Sununu pointed to recent investments to expand ski trails and make other changes at the resort, and said that those moves created jobs, even if they weren’t necessarily direct employees of Waterville Valley.

“We do tons of contracting in our business,” Sununu said. “There’s tons of different areas and avenues that we’ve created in just by growing the businesses that we’ve invested in that have literally created hundreds of jobs at Waterville Valley.”

In 2013, while the ski resort was seeking federal approval for an expansion of its trail system, the U.S. Forest Service noted that the resort did contribute to some additional "indirect employment" in the area. 

"Translating the seasonal full-time and seasonal part-time jobs into a full-time equivalent, it is estimated that the resort’s total direct and indirect effect on employment in the area equates to 1981 jobs including full-time, seasonal, and part-time work, or approximately 769 full-time equivalent jobs," the report noted.

Only a small portion of those directly employed by Waterville Valley are full-time, year-round employees — about 50 out of about 800 employees overall. According to figures from the 2011-12 season, the most recently available, more than half of the resort's positions during that period were seasonal and part-time in nature.