Press release: BRE program completion

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Wilton business surveys lead to prioritized economic development initiatives

 

March 21, 2017 Wilton, N.H. The town of Wilton has successfully completed the Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) program under the auspices of the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension Program.  “The Wilton Economic Development Team undertook the BR&E program so we could understand the needs of our existing businesses, and prioritize the initiatives we will focus on to ensure they continue to thrive” said team lead Jennifer Beck.

Volunteers from the community conducted one-hour surveys with approximately 60% of Wilton’s businesses.  The data from the surveys were consolidated and analyzed by the team from UNH.  On February 17th, Bill Maddocks and Sharon Cowen from the University of NH Cooperative Extension Service and representatives from the UNH Faculty presented the preliminary results in a session with town representatives, volunteers and other community members.  After further discussions with the Wilton Economic Development Team, the UNH staff produced the final report, located on the town website HERE.

The report outlines a number of opportunities for improvements, assets and advantages that can be leveraged, and concerns for the future, in particular, business succession planning for the many small individually-owned Wilton businesses.

Ultimately, the Wilton Economic Development Committee recommended four initiatives to move forward with to help drive economic growth in the town and for our businesses:

  • Digital Marketing -- create a digital presence for merchants, historical sites and recreational activities in Wilton. Offer a class/workshop on digital commerce 101 and offer a student SWOT Team to provide support for Wilton retail interests, events and other attractions.
  • Commercial Property Match-Making -- determine what types of businesses to attract that will thrive in Wilton and proactively match-make available key properties with those desirable businesses. Maximize use of existing commercial real estate to diversify the tax base and provide necessary services and social value to Wilton’s residents
  • Develop the Wilton Brand Promise -- conduct a competitive review of services and attractions in Wilton versus adjacent communities to determine Wilton’s unique value proposition. Engage Wilton residents and business owners in the Plan NH design charrette to leverage learnings for the development of an authentic, timeless and differentiated brand for the town.
  • Town Business Plan -- develop a return on investment view of proposed projects showing short and long-term impact that will change the focus from cost containment to revenue generation and long-term investment. Define an overall operating model, within the restrictions of municipal government, which provides for better and more regular public engagement, multiple avenues for identifying solutions and more proactive management of town requirements.

The Wilton Economic Development Team is seeking volunteers for all of these initiatives.  If you have background, expertise or interest in working on any of these programs, please send an email to ecodev@wiltonnh.org.

“We have been very gratified by the enthusiastic reception by Wilton residents for working on economic development, and are hoping that we will be able to tap into the talent and interest that we know is out there!” concluded Ms. Beck.