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$3.5 million in federal funds requested for signs

September 30, 2009
WEST STEWARTSTOWN — A special meeting of the board of county commissioners is set to discuss funding to brand and market the North Country along the local roadways. The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the County Nursing Home, off Route 3.

Cathy Conway, vice president of the Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC), has been invited by the three commissioners to provide greater detail on why she believes the board should sponsor an application for approximately $3.5 million in federal stimulus funds to provide extensive "way-finding" signs along with some 30 kiosks across the county's highways and byways. The signs and kiosks would all be designed to support the northern New Hampshire branding and marketing project — "Grand Resorts, Grand Adventure."

No local dollars would be required to match funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

At Wednesday's regular monthly meeting, the commissioners said that they had not had sufficient information on the project to make a determination as to what is in the county's best interest.

At their regular monthly meeting held on Aug. 12 at Six Gun City, however, the commissioners did listen to a presentation on the countywide branding project along with other NCIC initiatives.

Branding project manager Samantha Kenney, of NCIC, reported that the branding project is a tourism marketing initiative, which is aligned with other economic projects and aims to directly benefit Cos County businesses and residents.

In answer to a question posed by Commissioner Paul Grenier of Berlin, who indicated that he fears the project is not designed to help small businesses, Ms. Kenney explained that once its own website is up and running, there will be an industry site on which all Cos businesses can place their information, free of charge.

NCIC president Jon Freeman said that he believes in the aphorism "a rising tide lifts all boats."

SilverTech, a New Hampshire-based website production and hosting company, has started work on the countywide website, which is set to be launched in early November. The website is being designed to be consistent with the branding and marketing plan developed over a three-year period by rural tourism development consultant Roger Brooks of Seattle-based Destination Development International (DDI).

The website will help to place northern New Hampshire at the forefront of regional competition for visitors' dollars, according to Ms. Kenney.

Information will interface with the official award-winning State of New Hampshire tourism website — VisitNH.org — also designed by SilverTech and will allow visitors searching on that site to access all northern N.H. information.

"With so many people in our target markets, such as Boston, staying closer to home but still looking for an adventure, we are looking to capitalize on the current economic situation," she noted on the New Hampshire Grand twitter site.

A brand leadership team charged with upholding the mission and the standards of the campaign and serving as a liaison to their communities, is now at work. Its membership includes Bruce Hicks of Santa's Village in Jefferson; Jenn Landry of a Path Less Travelled Cabins in Pittsburg; Sylvia Poulin and Stacia Roberge, who represent Berlin retailers; Rick Tillotson of the Balsams in Dixville; Beno Lamontagne of Radio Shack in Colebrook; Chris Thayer of the Appalachian Mountain Club in Crawford and Pinkham Notches; Sean Doll of the Bretton Woods Ski Area and Craig Clemmer of the Mount Washington Hotel, both in Bretton Woods; Chris Diego of the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield; Kate Williams of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail; and Director Alice DeSouza of the state Division of Travel and Tourism along with Ms. Conway and Ms. Kenney.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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