WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Economic Development Committee held a virtual meeting earlier this week to discuss its goals for the next 12 months.
“Our original objective was to bring more businesses into town, but we’ve now taken a bit of a turn [due to the pandemic],” said member Carol Boisvert. “We’ve been helping existing businesses because of what’s going on, but hopefully we’ll be able to soon turn our attention back to drawing businesses to town.”
“It’s exciting to think we’ll be navigating towards a point of being able to talk about economic development again — attracting new businesses and filling some of those vacant storefronts that exist that our community often observes on social media,” agreed member Mike Champoux, who was recently re-elected Chair of the Committee.
One of the group’s primary area of concern involves COMMUNICATION to both the business community and general public. Committee members spent the bulk of their 90-minute meeting discussing this issue.
“If we’re not reaching people, it’s like we’re wasting time,” said member Suzanne Sullivan. “Outreach is a critical component of this committee.”
According to the town’s IT Director John O’Neil, the Committee’s page on the town’s website has received only 150 views over the past 75 days (since May 1, 2020). The page accounted for just 0.11% of the town’s website traffic.
“If we’re talking about stuff, but not doing stuff, then nothing is really coming out of this,” warned Champoux, who stressed the Committee must determine how it’s going to convey its information to business owners and residents.
With the assistance of O’Neil, the Committee has created an e-newsletter using the town’s Everbridge alert program. Residents and business owners can click HERE, type in their email address, and select “Economic Development Committee” to begin receiving news and announcements from the Committee.
Database Of Wilmington Business Owners
Per the suggestion of member Nancy Vallee, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Wilmington-Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce, the Committee will begin to build a database of email addresses for all Wilmington business owners. The Chamber of Commerce has some email addresses. The Town Clerk’s Office has some email addresses. The Town Assessor’s Office has some email addresses. But Town Manager Jeff Hull confirmed that, to his knowledge, a comprehensive list with email addresses for every business in town does not currently exist.
Town Topics & Press Releases
The Committee agreed to provide brief updates in the Town Manager’s quarterly Town Topics newsletter, which is mailed with residential and commercial property tax bills. The Committee will also continue to provide press releases to the local media, including Wilmington Town Crier and Wilmington Apple.
Rotary Park Sign and Route 129 Billboard
In the coming weeks, the Committee will utilize the large sign at Rotary Park to encourage residents to visit its website and sign up for its e-newsletter. Member Robert Oliveri had investigated the feasibility of displaying a message on the billboard in town, but the cost ($2,000) was prohibitive.
The Committee was advised not to launch its own social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as all posts would be public record and must be archived, plus issues surrounding the Open Meeting Law could arise. Instead, Chairman Champoux will provide the town with any news or announcements he wishes to share on behalf of the Committee, and the town will publish on its existing Facebook and Twitter pages.
Wilmington Community Television
The Committee discussed several ways it will partner with WCTV. Member and Selectman Greg Bendel suggested the Committee invite a different local business to give a brief 5-minute presentation at the start of each of their televised meetings. He also discussed working with WCTV to create a PSA to raise awareness of the group’s mission and film interviews with local business owners to discuss economic development in town. Nancy Vallee noted that Bob Boyce is re-starting his ‘Making It In Wilmington’ show on WCTV where he spotlights established local businesses and chats with their owners, presenting an additional opportunity for collaboration with the Committee.
In Other News
Town Manager Jeff Hull reported only one Wilmington business — the Wilmington Dance Academy — has expressed interest thus far in holding an event (e.g., dance rehearsals, dance recitals) in a town park. The Economic Development Committee had successfully lobbied the Selectmen to streamline the permitting process for such requests. Hull said the the Dance Academy’s request was in process and he was waiting to hear back from them.
Paul Tivnan joined the Committee after being unanimously appointed by the Selectmen on Monday night. Tivnan takes over for Daniel Gibbons, who recently stepped down.
The Committee will next meet on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 6pm via Zoom.
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