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home : top news : top news April 24, 2015

2/12/2013 8:52:00 AM
NEK 'Brand' Under Development by Tourism, Economic Leaders
Amy Ash Nixon
Staff Writer

EAST BURKE -- All eyes are on the development prospects of Bill Stenger and his partners at Burke Mountain, in their long-hoped-for expansion of the resort to include hotels, expanded four-season amenities and more.

With the group's purchase of Burke Mountain last year they joined an already strong economic development and tourism community here. Groups like the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce, the Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association (NEKTTA), Northern Community Investment Corp. (NCIC), and the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) are working to develop the Northeast Kingdom 'brand,' said NEKTTA Executive Director Gloria Bruce.

The various organizations and area residents attended a meeting last week. According to Bruce, the effort underway "will allow for community evaluation of the positioning of the Northeast Kingdom."

Mike Welch, Northeast Kingdom Director of Economic Development for NCIC, agreed on Monday that the process is off to a strong start, saying, "It was great to see 60 people from all over the Northeast Kingdom come together to discuss a regional brand. People spoke very passionately about some of the attributes that make the Kingdom a special place. Scenic beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and neighbors that are hard-working, honest and dependable were echoed by many as strengths. Poverty, transportation costs, and lack of updated infrastructure -- including cell service, high-speed broadband, and substandard bridges and roadways -- were cited as some of the weaknesses."

Welch continued, stating, "This is an opportunity for our region to create a common image that can be used for much more than tourism promotion."

Bruce said that brand identity is not strictly tourism-related, "but is meant to be a brand identity for all facets of the Kingdom." After issuing a request for proposals for the project, Origin Design and Communications was chosen to work with NEKTTA and their regional partners, said Bruce. Origin's portfolio includes branding for Jay Peak Resort and Newport, as well as Telluride and Whistler.

Bruce said that NEKTTA will work with Origin "to develop a competitive analysis of two to three similar areas that have similar challenges as the Northeast Kingdom." Upon completion of a brand platform and conceptualization document, the final recommendations for the region will be presented by Origin, said Bruce.

Bob Ryan NNEKY

She said the meeting turnout was strong and pleased organizers, saying, "People came from every corner of the Kingdom and shared various points of view. Various economic sectors including, but not limited to, education, health care, tourism, agriculture, real estate and communications were represented."

"The Origin team appears to be extremely competent and I am optimistic about this process," stated Jody Fried, executive director of Catamount Arts."

Event organizers, Bruce noted, "believe that a solid position and brand and the pricing premium it brings can be very beneficial to many Northeast Kingdom businesses and industry sectors as the power of branding can help a region, community or business take the edge in competitive industries, thrive in a recession, or simply grow operating margins and create value for businesses and communities."

To learn more about the brand development effort can contact Gloria Bruce, NEKTTA executive director, at 626-8511 or

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