A $295,000 grant from New Hampshire’s GOFERR Fund will support the programs
North Conway, NH – In an unprecedented effort, the six chambers of the White Mountains Region, have applied and successfully acquired $295,000 in Chamber of Commerce Partnership Assistance funding from the NH Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) to work alongside Ski New Hampshire and the White Mountains Attractions Association on programs to provide relief to New Hampshire’s White Mountain region. The programs will focus on promoting tourism, workforce recruitment programs, Covid education, and PPE supplies distribution to the northern region of New Hampshire including Franconia, Jackson, Littleton, Lincoln/Woodstock, Twin Mountain/Bretton Woods and the Mt Washington Valley from fall through early winter. Perhaps more importantly, the initiation of this regional marketing collaboration among the Northern New Hampshire chambers and associations represents a new partnership that will reach well into the future.
The Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery is dedicated to the timely, fair and transparent allocation and disbursement of CARES Act emergency relief funds to COVID-19 pandemic impacted communities, organizations and businesses. A special program called the Chamber of Commerce Partnership Assistance Fund was created to reward collaborative efforts among chambers that were ineligible for CARES Act funding through other programs.
To access funds to help New Hampshire’s hard hit Northern communities, representatives from White Mountains Attractions Association, Ski NH and the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the development and funding for three programs described below, and the region’s additional chambers signed on enthusiastically. The Mt Washington Valley Chamber will serve as the funding administrator of the multi-part campaign on behalf of the entire group, while individual chambers and associations will focus in on participation and oversight of the three programs.
FALL & EARLY WINTER PROGRAMS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE’s NORTH COUNTRY
The White Mountains 100-mile Challenge
This program will encourage visitors to experience local businesses and neighborhoods in the White Mountains via creation of a regional 100 item “scavenger hunt” that encourages socially distanced travel. This fall-through-early-winter program encourages business transactions at member businesses in each of the six towns/locations of the participating chambers. Visitors will compete for prizes by visiting a number of the 100 suggested stops throughout the Northern White Mountains and uploading photos and their results to WhiteMts100MileChallenge.com.Social Media channels, social hashtags, and posted reviews will help further promote these regions and the chamber members. Examples of stops on the White Mountains 100-mile Challenge include visiting a local restaurant, shop or attraction/ski resort, exploring a local visitor center, spending the night in a local lodging property, etc. A chart of all the stops in each region of the White Mountains can be easily downloaded from the website and the uploaded photos will live stream on the website.
“The White Mountains 100-mile Challenge encourages social distancing and does not promote large gatherings of people to any one area during the campaign’s run-time as guests can complete the challenge in a day, in a weekend, or over the course of multiple weeks,” observed Charyl Reardon, President of White Mountains Attractions Association and one of the innovators of this promotion. “The challenge helps to drive visitors to discover new parts of Northern New Hampshire and the businesses within them,” she added.
Workforce Recruitment Program
This six-chamber Workforce Recruitment Program will identify potential recruitment tools for finding and hiring a workforce for the Fall and Winter seasons. The program is dedicated to developing means to increase the number of applications the business community in the White Mountains can consider for part-time, full-time, year-round and seasonal employment. Additionally, the plan for the Workforce Recruitment Program is to develop the “NH Advantage” experience for new recruits to come to New Hampshire for an employment opportunity.
The goal of the Workforce Recruitment Program is to work with recruiting offices such as Trimen Work Solutions and others, State Office of Employment Services in the New England States and many others to develop relationships for sharing job information for positions in Northern New Hampshire. Additionally, the plan is to identify lodging options for workers, and coordinate with other larger job portals in Northern New England.
“Small businesses throughout New Hampshire have been handicapped by many of the programs implemented to ease the burden of the pandemic,” observed Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The federal unemployment stipends made it easier for potential employees to decide to stay home instead of seeking employment. Plus, the fear that one could contract Covid 19 in the workplace and the need to be home with children due to a lack of daycare providers and remote learning caused by school closures only decreased the potential employment pool. Add to this the federal government’s cancellation of J1 Visa’s which in the past supplemented the lack of available employees at ski resorts, attractions and more, and small businesses have had to reduce the number of days per week that they are open for business. This program will address ways to boost our workforce pool in New Hampshire’s North Country,” commented Crawford.
The Covid Pandemic has created new expenses for small business in the area of PPE, Public Restrooms, Signage, Security, Trash and Toxic Waste Removal, Training Materials (for frontline employees) and Education (for visitors and business owner/manager(s) which has in turn caused many of the 1000+ White Mountains region businesses to re-allocate funds from other important budget lines to meet these needs. This program will identify PPE needs or previous expenditures of businesses, source items such as masks (cloth and surgical), sanitation wipes, hand sanitizer and gloves, identify public restroom, signage, trash, parking and shuttle needs, and provide financial support for the businesses that are members of the six chambers and associations to assist in covering their PPE needs.
In addition, through this grant educational resources for visitors and businesses will be developed via a promotional campaign called Granite State Safe. The materials and advertising for this campaign will aim at educating out-of-state and in-state visitors on the best practices for traveling to and around New Hampshire during this time. Learn more at https://www.granitestatesafe.com.
“The White Mountains region of New Hampshire is primarily a tourism destination and is experiencing a larger than expected influx of overnight and day-trippers,” noted Janice Crawford. “This combined with the added safety guidelines developed by State and Federal governments and the CDC, our already stressed outdoor amenities (parks, White Mountain National Forest Trail Systems, private trail systems, etc.) are experiencing a heightened level of disrespect from many of those using these facilities. The destinations represented by the six chambers need more amenities for personal needs, as well as safety and security training for our frontline employees. This program seeks to essentially provide the one stop location/clearinghouse for all of the information created by the state and municipalities, to create educational programs for respect and kindness during the pandemic and finally, to provide PPE to businesses in the White Mountains,” added Crawford.
The outcome of the collaboration between the White Mountains region chambers and associations will build the alliance needed to create a powerful working group for future cooperative projects. To learn more about the program and each chambers’ involvement contact any of the participating members listed below.