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RUMFORD -- Representatives of businesses, non-profit organizations and local government on Shopper's Island have been meeting for the past couple of months to explore and implement ideas for increasing business on the Island and strengthening it as a place to do business and be in business.
Those who have been active in this group include Tom Carey, Catherine Johnson, Cherry Smith, Jennifer Kreckel, Tammi Lyons, Tom Bourret, Patty Ladd, George Kimball, Dick and Jolene Lovejoy, Jim Rinaldo, Carlo Puiia and Sherry Milligan.
On Dec. 15, most of the group were in attendance as Mia Purcell, program manager for the Western Maine Economic Development Council, made a presentation to the Rumford Board of Selectmen.
After discussions with local Rumford leaders, Envision Rumford was initiated to increase business in Rumford, especially on the Island, and to strengthen the Island as a place to do business and be in business. A list of all the businesses and organizations on the Island was compiled and an invitation to the first meeting, September 22, was sent to each. Since then six meetings have been held, with attendance at each meeting averaging nine representatives of Island businesses and organizations.
The Western Maine Economic Development Council‘s role has been one of facilitation. Island businesses and organizations have developed the agenda and followed up on each idea, according to their interests and time. Below is a summary of the ideas that participants in Envision Rumford are researching and/or implementing.
Signage directing traffic to downtown Rumford: Photos were taken of all the town signs in Rumford and three sample sign designs were created using universal symbols and bright colors. Quotes for the new sign designs are being requested from Low Key Creations and Erik Designs. A packet of sign designs with a budget will be submitted to the Town Manager and Selectmen for review/approval with the intent of having new signs in place in the spring.
Flags identifying downtown restaurants and shops to visitors. Several flag styles have been identified and cost estimates for installation and creation are being requested from Low Key Creations and Erik Designs.
Map that promotes downtown Rumford businesses. Local graphic artists are donating their time to design a map of the Island with advertisements around the border and one graphic artist has created a template design for the downtown which is attached. Thirty-six ads at $40 per ad will cover the cost of printing the maps as pads. Five ads have been sold already and the Growth Council has agreed to accept checks from businesses and organizations that want to advertise on the map. Maps will be placed at the Information Center, Black Mountain and other strategic locations.
Create a video that features the inside of downtown Rumford businesses and provides a virtual tour of downtown Rumford. The video is almost done. It will be shown at Black Mountain and in the Information Center.
Provide marketing training to downtown businesses. WMEDC organized a training workshop for Rumford and the River Valley on the basics of marketing your community and business. The training was four hours in length and was held on Dec. 1 at the Rumford Town Hall. Fourteen people attended the training. The trainer, Donna Fichtner, sent a summary of the training which focused on developing a marketing strategy for Rumford.
Other ideas being investigated
Create a zip line at Black Mountain, over Rumford Falls and the reflection pool, and/or near the bridge and create a walking path between zip lines in the Falls area. The staff person at Sunday River who manages its zip lines has been contacted along with Brookfield Power which has not taken a position on zip lines. Liability issues are being researched along with companies that install zip lines.
Create and maintain a Facebook Page for downtown Rumford businesses. A webpage for downtown Rumford businesses at www.bizrumford.com has been created.
U.S. Cross Country Championship at Black Mountain from January 2 -8. The economic impact of this event, which will bring 500 athletes plus their coaches and family members to the River Valley, is projected to be between $1.5 million and $2 million. After meeting with Carlie Casey and Jim Carter, it was decided to:
* Promote Rumford restaurants and convenience stores, especially those that cater, by inviting them to display menus or flyers in the lodge with coupons for athletes and coaches to see;
* Invite Bartash’s and Carlisle’s to showcase and sell some of their wares on Monday, January 2, in the lodge;
* Put a welcome message on electronic boards around town (i.e., Hosmer Field);
* Check with Craig Zurhorst about coverage of the Nationals by network TV stations, such as Channel 6.
The group welcome your thoughts, questions and comments and invite you to become involved in their work. Their next meeting will be from 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12, at the River Valley Tech Center.