Saturday February 23, 2013

DOVER -- The Selectboard gave its approval to support a grant that would assist the Deerfield Valley with branding and marketing, if the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce is approved for a program.

"I think we’ve discussed marketing and branding to some extent in the past. It’s a big job and an expensive one," said Dover Economic Specialist Ken Black, who supported the application for the grant. "It makes sense to do it. For Dover, Wilmington and the larger

community."

Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold came before the Selectboard to request that the board agree to match funds for the grant.

The Dover Selectboard approved the chamber’s request to support the grant after some discussion. If the grant is declined, the funds in question will be reviewed again. The board will support the application with a $10,000 commitment.

Local support is needed before submitting the application that would increase the funds that towns and other organizations agree to contributing towards. The application is for a potential grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The grant would call for funding from the state as well. The ultimate amount of the grant is unknown, because this application is currently a work in progress and it is not guaranteed.

Black said that there are left over funds from budgetary items that were not used. He thought this project would be "worthwhile."

The Rural Enterprise Technical Assistance grant would go towards improving branding and marketing within the Deerfield Valley. The USDA has special Rural Development programs that assist regions like the valley.

If the application is denied, the chamber will ask participants how they want to proceed, Grinold told the board.

"Thank you all for reading this. It will be a working document until we hand it in," he said.

The application is not due until March 31, but Grinold has already gotten Wilmington to agree to putting up $10,000. Mount Snow has agreed to put $10,000 as well. Haystack has not committed yet.

Grinold will be modifying the application, with assistance from customers of the chamber as well as other businesses in the valley. The USDA will then review it. If the USDA approves the grant, the valley could get up to over $100,000.00 for the project.

"The grant would help create a cohesive branding and marketing program," said Grinold. "For too long, we’ve not worked together, both towns and all the different businesses and the resort area. This would help us do a better job with that."

Grinold told the Reformer that this grant program is "very competitive."

"We hope we’re writing one that they choose to support," he said.

Grinold made it clear that the numbers were just a "budgeted goal."

"It’s not a $175,000 grant," he said. "It could be less. Once we go to the state, we’ll see what they’re willing to contribute."

The funding from the USDA, if the application is accepted, would be directly proportional to how much monetary support he could get before submitting the application to the USDA.

Selectboard member Buzzy Buswell went through a sample of the application that Grinold had begun work on. He thought of some changes that might improve the application.

"This is a program that is needed in the town of Dover and in the valley," he said, before reviewing some notes he had made before the meeting.

Buswell gave Grinold a copy of a 2010 analysis of Dover lodging and hospitality study and noted that Dover had experienced a 20-percent decline in business.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.