Our Opinion: Taking the next step in Manchester

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We're happy to report that the newly-organized Manchester Business Association, Inc. is in the process of incorporating as a nonprofit and has named officers. It's an important step forward in creating an entity that will succeed the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce, which dissolved last year, and take up the task of telling the world what makes this a special place.

The group will not be putting a petition on the Town Meeting ballot to establish a destination marketing organization — and with it, a proposed funding mechanism that would have collected taxes on commercial property owners to pay for its marketing activities.

Instead, it's looking at a hybrid approach — a mix of funds contributed by members, private donations and public dollars — to carry out its mission.

We're interested in that for a key reason: Next to building the business and marketing plan and finding the right people to carry it out, funding this new enterprise might be the most difficult and most critical piece of the puzzle.

But it's surely not the only piece.

We're particularly glad that the marketing plan will be unveiled at the next meeting, at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6 at the Manchester Community Library, along with its objectives and costs. Those details could go a long way towards convincing folks of the necessity of this endeavor — and that there's a plan in place to get from here to there.

Keep in mind that this is still very much a new initiative — not even six months old. And replacing an institution that had been in place as long as the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce — and then deciding not to simply replicate what was in place, but update it with a new organizational model and focus — is a move that carries a high degree of difficulty. So it doesn't come as a surprise that it's taking a bit of time to bring the components together.

And that's before they get to finding the right professionals to work the plan and make it a success.

With that in mind, we're also glad that the group will be bringing economic development leaders from Saratoga Springs and from Stowe as speakers, starting with Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County (NY) Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 6. Residents, business owners and the group itself can only benefit from learning more about how other communities faced similar challenges.

So yes, this is taking some time and it should, because it's worth getting it right.


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