Uniting the Shires: It’s Open for Discussion
Not long after the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce closed its doors, two local Main Street businesses stepped up to fill a void, and address a pressing issue: where will visitors go now to access information on the region in the absence of our welcome center?
For the past couple of months, the Manchester branch of Berkshire Bank and its staff have been welcoming visitors during the week to an information station at their Main Street location. On weekends, the bright blue and white sign moves across the street to TPW Real Estate so weekend visitors can receive that same special attention. The sign and the information stations inside these two locations was provided by the Shires of Vermont organization, but the real key to its success has been the members of the business community working together to benefit the larger community.
The Shires of Vermont, which has been supporting both shires for over a decade, has formed a Working Group to explore interest in, and the possibility of, the two shires coming together under one regional entity. They are already linked logistically by the beautiful Shires of Vermont Byway and a common sense of place, history and culture, with abundant recreational resources, a proud agricultural heritage and a robust entrepreneurial spirit.
“North and South Shire businesses got to know each other a bit better at the last mixer (in Manchester), beginning to ask the hard questions – and informally discussing ideas. It was suggested that we keep the momentum going, and so the Bennington Chamber has invited all interested in making new acquaintances, networking and moving the conversation forward,” said Paula Maynard, a member of the Shires of Vermont. To that end, the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce invites members of The Shires Working Group and businesses and organizations from the Manchester and the Mountains area to a special mixer from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20. The event will be held at Bennington Project Independence on Harwood Hill, and will offer appetizers and a cash bar.
On Wednesday, August 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., The Shires Working Group invites businesses north and south to meet in the middle at the Arlington Inn for an information session and further discussion on efforts to plan the future and gather input on what kind of organization might best promote commerce and tourism throughout the region. Call 802-375-6532 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.