Valley Chamber gets branding grant

Friday June 21, 2013

WILMINGTON -- The Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce secured a grant that will enable businesses in the area to create a cohesive marketing plan.

The idea is to adopt a plan and use the same language to describe the area, ultimately presenting a uniform message to attract visitors.

"What we want to do is bring in some expert help to help us identify and articulate a modern brand and language to speak to today's traveler," said Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold. "For too long we've relied on what's worked in the past and in the rear view mirror, that hasn't been working lately."

On June 17, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch announced that a $49,000 federal grant was awarded to the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, which would be used to assist the Chamber with identifying a brand and marketing the region.

According to a press release, the Rural Business Enterprise Grant, or RBEG, is "funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA) office. RBEG funds are used to help community organizations partner with private business to create jobs and economic opportunities."

The Deerfield Valley attracts many tourists each year but has seen a decline in recent years. The press release made mention of the RBEG grant being an investment that would aid in making the region more "resilient" to future disasters and creating more jobs.

"Leahy, Sanders and Welch said this grant was especially important because it would help the region, including the towns of Wilmington and Dover, recover from the devastating effects of Irene. According to the lawmakers, the concept of focusing on a marketing and branding plan for the region emerged out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Long Term Recovery Plan that was created in concert with Vermonters in the region," the press release stated.

Before applying for the grant, Grinold needed matching dollars to become eligible for the USDA funding. He went to the towns of Dover and Wilmington, as well as Mount Snow and the Hermitage Club. The total project will receive about $117,000.

Grinold said the Chamber of Commerce had identified the grant as a potential source for assisting with its marketing objectives. The application itself was about 100 pages. Rachel Olstein assisted with writing it.

"What it starts off with is a lot of data. It makes clear what the economic indicators are and points out what everybody knows anecdotally," he said. "The last seven years, we had some hard times."

Grinold cited the loss of jobs, a declining population and the loss of businesses as reasons for the economic trouble the area has experienced.

"It makes a statement that we are lacking the cohesive effort, within the Deerfield valley, of businesses to market themselves together," he said. "Coming out of the recession, other communities are sky rocketing while here in the valley, we are not."

Besides marketing research, the Chamber of Commerce plans to provide interested businesses in the valley with mini-grants that could be up to about $100. This would assist businesses with getting on the same page as one another.

For example, if a logo is created, it could then be applied to the business' web pages as part of the mini-grant, which goes towards the cohesive marketing strategy.

"I'm really exciting about empowering the businesses to leverage this grant further," said Grinold.

With the variety of businesses in the region, the marketing plan will involve a language that speaks to the consumer and highlights the four season community appeal that the valley has to offer. Ultimately, the goal is for marketing is to go further than the immediate area and reach new customers.

Grinold told the Reformer that businesses which are not part of the Chamber of Commerce are also invited to participate in the implementation of the marketing strategy.

The Chamber of Commerce received notification that the grant won't be in effect until the USDA's fiscal year begins in July.

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


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