Time is now to engage

Editor of the Reformer:

In response to the article "Brattleboro Promotion Committee proposal criticized by board," (April 7), I'd like to thank the Town Arts Committee for bringing forth an idea that has been floating around for a while: utilizing some of the funding from the meals and rooms tax for marketing our town, to bring in more visitors, and thereby increasing revenue from that tax. It's an important concept, whose time has come for discussion.

I'd also like to recognize the Town Arts Committee's attempt to "unite the efforts of local arts and business groups." While another committee is not necessary (or efficient) to achieve their goals, it can be challenging to know who is doing what and how we work together. Even as President of the Board for the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, it has taken me some time to get to know the different business and arts groups in town.

Each group serves a specific purpose, and we often work together to achieve common goals. The most recent example is when DBA worked to bring Vermont Restaurant Week to southern Vermont (April 22 to May 1). This will be the first time Restaurant Week will have a presence in southern Vermont, and it is a joint effort of DBA, Seven Days (Burlington) and the Chamber of Commerce. DBA and the Chamber are sharing equally in the expense to subsidize the costs of this program (including the annual Dining Destinations Guide) for our collective members who wished to participate.


Together, we have eight restaurants represented in this state-wide event which will bring significant state marketing dollars and visitor revenue, not just to the establishments, but to surrounding businesses, and add to our local meals and room tax revenues. This is just one example of many collaborative efforts between existing organizations.

In the last year, DBA and the Chamber (as well as Latchis Arts) have invested significantly in developing new websites which really showcase our community. Brattleboro.com has already been hailed for the extensive profiles of downtown businesses, and the calendar of area events is a go-to for locals and visitors alike.

Investments in social media supplement the site, and DBA has just hired a PR expert to help us reach targeted audiences. Our goal at DBA is to bring people downtown and delight them when they are here- goals which have a direct, economic benefit to Brattleboro and southern Vermont. In other words, the DBA serves as the marketing wing for the Downtown Improvement Distrcit and our metrics of success continue to grow.

DBA meets the second Monday of each month at noon in Oak Meadow in Brooks House. We welcome anyone who would like to learn more and engage in our efforts to share Brattleboro's story in meaningful ways.

Michelle Simpson-Siegel, Board President, Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, Arpil 14