Cohase Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
Where the River Unites
 Our Communities
February 2016
In This Issue
Upcoming Events



February 20
Opening performance of "Baggage"
7:30 PM
Alumni Hall
Haverhill, NH

February 21
Wells River Acton Program
Annual Meeting
4:00 PM
Happy Hour Restaurant
Wells River, VT 

February 24
Profitable Small Business Branding Workshop
9 AM - 12 PM
38 Eastern Av.
St. Johnsbury, VT
RSVP (802) 728-9101 

March 6
Haverhill Recreation
Penny Sale

10 AM-12 PM
Clifford Building
Woodsville, NH
 
March 8
River Bend Alumni Dinner
6:00 PM
River Bend Career & Technical Center
Bradford, VT

March 19
Share Your Skills Day
1 PM- 4PM
Oxbow High School
Bradford, VT 
 
For more info or details about upcoming events, please visit our WEB site at www.cohase.org
:: 802-518-0030
Dear Members:
  
Having completed our Strategic Planning Meeting, we are looking forward to another year of exciting events that advertise the beauty of our area, instill community pride and stimulate our local economy.

Our current plans include:

  • A Regional Business Breakfast in May
  • Paddle the Border in May and October
  • Garden Tour in July
  • Farm Tour in August
  • 48 Hour Film Slam/Film Event in September
  • "Cohase Passport" Regional Marketing Program in October
  • Business Workshops throughout the year
  • Business After Hours/Networking events throughout the year

The exact details of these events are still being solidified and we will be in touch with key players in the next month to firm up dates and participation. More information will be provided about each of these as details unfold.

 

We very much appreciate those who have provided sponsor dollars and/or expressed interest in sponsoring events in 2016.  We will be in touch regarding your specific sponsorship details very soon!  If your business is interested in helping to sponsor one or more of our events, please let us know!

 

Please note that this is not necessarily a final list and we look forward to your continued input.  Other ideas brought forth by members are still being investigated including the possibility of a regional yard sale loop and regional art installations.

 

Thank you so much for your continued support!

 


Erik Volk
Executive Director
cohasechamber@gmail.com
(802) 518-0030

  
Cohase Passport Program Proposal
  
We are excited at the prospect of introducing a new regional marketing program this Fall which we are tentatively calling the "Cohase Passport Program."  Although we are still working out the final details, we wanted to check with our members to confirm if they would find such a program  usa-passport.jpg valuable and if they would be willing to participate.

How would this program work?
The basics of the program would include the following:
  • A "Cohase Passport" game card would be created which would include "squares" for the various participating member businesses. 
  • Participants would bring the "passport" to participating businesses and get a unique "passport" stamp from each business they visit.  No purchase would be required.
  • Completed passports would be entered into a drawing for cash prizes (tentatively $500 and $100) and a gift basket comprised of merchandise and/or gift certificates donated from area businesses.
  • A minimum number of stamps will be required to be entered into the drawing.  However, the more businesses visited, the larger the number of entries.  (For example, if 40 businesses participate, the participant might receive one entry for every 10 stamps completed.)
  • The program will likely run for the month of September.
Is this program only appropriate for retail establishments?
Absolutely  not!  We anticipate that this program will be not only valuable to retail businesses but also for any business which would benefit from increased customer exposure.  In addition to classic retail outlets, we anticipate participation by service providers, banks, insurance agencies, real estate firms, accommodation providers, fitness centers, restaurants, non-profits, health care providers and other businesses.  Of course, the program will not be appropriate for all member businesses but we hope it will be an exciting marketing opportunity for many.  The program would only be open to current Cohase Chamber members.

What are the major benefits if I choose to participate?
Our goal is to bring new, current and former customers into your business to actually see your business and interact with you and your staff.  Unlike awareness campaigns, you will actually be able to measure the amount of visitors to your establishment as a result of this program.  We believe that once people have made a physical connection with a business or organization, the chances of them returning and remembering to shop local are greatly increased.  We also believe the fun "game" aspect of this program will be an exciting, entertaining and non-threatening way for community members, regional residents and visitors to visit businesses they may not have thought about visiting otherwise.  During this campaign, you may also make marketing information for your business or organization available to further solidify the connection between possible customers and your business.

Is there a cost to participate?
Yes, but although there will be a cost to participate, our goal is to keep the cost low and have as much participation across our region as possible. Although we are still figuring out the specific costs involved, we anticipate the participation fee will be around $50.  The costs will help offset the prize monies, printing costs, advertising costs and other costs associated with the program.  Participating businesses who wish to be a "drop-point" for completed passports will pay a slightly higher fee for that designation, around $100.

OK.  I would like to participate.  Now what?
If you would like to participate, please email us at cohasechamber@gmail.com or call us at (802) 518-0030 to let us know.  In order for us to move forward with the program, we need to be certain we have ample participants to make the program a reality. Thank you!
Business Funding and Consulting Resources You May Not Be Familiar With

We are fortunate to live in an area with an assortment of dedicated local banks who are eager to support new businesses and to help existing businesses expand.  However, for those who may not qualify for standard business loans, who may need additional sources of funding for specific purposes or who need consultation with experts in a specific area, many resources exist to help.

Below is a listing of some organizations who can assist you with starting, expanding and/or funding your business that we hope may be helpful. Please note that some towns also offer revolving loan funds with favorable terms.  Check with your Town Office to see if your town is currently offering such funds.

Economic Development Centers
Both Vermont and New Hampshire offer Economic Development Centers which can assist you in numerous ways with your new or existing business including assisting with real estate financing and procurement, funding sources and grants  for business growth and expansion, business planning, and workforce development.  In Vermont, contact Bob Haynes at the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation at (802) 295-4231 or via email at rhaynes@gmedc.com.  Visit them online at www.gmedc.com. In New Hampshire, contact Chris Wellington at the Grafton County Economic Development Council at (603) 536-2011 or via email at cwellington@graftoncountyedc.org.  Visit them online at www.graftoncountyedc.org


Small Business Development Centers
Small Business Development Centers in both New Hampshire and Vermont offer business consulting services and training for businesses who need assistance in starting, expanding, funding or marketing their business.  The center offers assistance at little or no charge.  In Vermont, contact Ross Hart, Orange/Northern Windsor Adviser at (802) 295-3710 or via email at rhart@vtsbdc.org.  In New Hampshire, contact Scott Stephens, Grafton County Business Adviser at (603) 254-6809 or via email at scott.stephens@unh.edu.

US Small Business Administration
The SBA is not a direct lender but works with other lenders such as your local bank.  The SBA helps to guarantee funding and to help bring loans into compliance with the rules of conventional lenders.  Most businesses qualify and loans can range from $500 to $5 million.  The SBA offers an assortment of loan programs including import/export expansion loans, loans to assist with the purchase of real estate or fixed assets, and microloans (small loans that don't exceed $50,0000.)  To contact the SBA in New Hampshire, call Greta Johansson at (603) 225-1400.  In Vermont, contact Darcy Carter at (802) 828-4422.  You can also visit their WEB site at www.sba.gov.

Community Loan Fund
The Community Loan Fund is an alternate source of funding for those businesses who who can't qualify for a loan via a bank.  All sources of the capital are privately funded and this funding source can often offer creative financing solutions.  Funding is not generally available for start up companies but is available for growth capital. For more information in New Hampshire, call (603) 224-6669 or visit them online at www.communityloanfund.org  In Vermont,  call (802) 223-1448 or visit them online at www.investinvermont.org.

New Hampshire Office of International Commerce
The Office of International Commerce works closely with state, federal and international agencies that assist New Hampshire businesses in finding the right global market for their products.  They can provide numerous resources for expanding your business internationally.  The Office of International Commerce also offers an Export Expansion Fund to help provide funding for international expansion.  For more information, contact Tina Kasim at (603) 271-8444.

New Hampshire Government Contracting Assistance Center
The New Hampshire Government Contracting Assistance Center provides specialized assistance for those businesses who wish to contract or subcontract with the Department of Defense, other federal agencies as well as state and local governments.  For more information call (603) 271-7581 or via email at ptapinfo@dred.nh.gov.

Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center
Offers free counselling services to Vermont businesses that would like to learn more about how to bid on Government contracts at the state and local level.  For more information, contact Joanne Spaulding at (802) 522-9135 or via email at joanne.spaulding@vermont.gov.

Job Training Funds
Both New Hampshire and Vermont offer funding to support training efforts for businesses of all sizes but is designed mainly for small businesses.  For information in New Hampshire, contact Michael Power at the New Hampshire Job Training Fund at (603) 271-7275 ext 188 or visit them online at  http://www.nhjobtrainingfund.org.  In Vermont, contact John Young at the  Vermont Training Program at (802) 355-2725 or by email at john.young@vermont.gov.

Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
SCORE represents the nation's largest network of free, expert business mentors across the country who can provide advice in the areas of business growth, starting a business, marketing a business, financing, budgeting, technology and management. For more information, visit them online at www.score.org or call them at 1-800-634-0245 to find a chapter or adviser near you.
Join the Vermont Creative Economy

Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, with some funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, is conducting a Creative Economy Inventory and Action Plan on behalf of the 40-towns in the East Central Vermont Economic Development District (ECVEDD).

The Creative Economy is defined as the businesses, non-profit organizations, and self-employed individuals involved in the origination, production, and distribution of goods and services in which artistic and cultural content gives the product or service value in the marketplace. The creative economy includes the following segments: Design, Film and Media, Visual Arts and Handcrafted Products, Performing Arts, Heritage, Preservation, Artisan Food and Drink, and the Literary Arts.
We want your participation. Watch the events calendar at www.ecvedd.org for upcoming meetings and events. If you'd like to be involved, or just discuss the project, please contact Loralee Morrow at 802-457-3188 or lmorrow@trorc.org.
Member Moment
This  column i s devoted to learning more about our member businesses.  We ask the business five questions.  Questions will vary by  month.

Peter Conrad and June Griswold
This month we were pleased to speak with June Griswold of Placey Associates in Wells River, Vermont.  Placey Associates is located just before the Veterans Memorial Bridge leading to Woodsville, NH. Placey Associates handles residential and commercial sales and also offers both buyer and seller brokerage services in both Vermont and New Hampshire.  June can be reached at (802) 757-2211.

Q. When did you come to own Placey Associates and why is it not called Griswold Associates?

A.  Clayton Placey owned the business originally and he had been in the real estate business for 40-50 years.  I started as an agent with him when it was called Strout Realty.  It later was United Realty, United National Realty and then Clayton purchased an ERA Agency.  Another company eventually bought ERA and he decided to go out on his own as Placey Associates.  I bought the business from him in December of 1994.  I couldn't find a new name I liked that would work in both Vermont and New Hampshire.  All the names I thought of were being used or a similar name was being used by someone else.  I was running out of time so I decided just to stay as Placey Associates.
 
Q. Can you tell us about any memorable or unusual sales you have had over the years?

A.  Well, my first sale was the Speck building in the Newbury Industrial Park where Bread & Chocolate is now.  It was unique because it was my first sale and was such a big sale.  

Also, Clayton Placey originally sold the P&H Truck Stop property for George Pratt to Nelson Baker and his partners.  I later sold the same property for Nelson Baker back to George Pratt.  The property was later sold by George Pratt to Champlain Oil.

Q.  How about memorable people?  Any interesting customers you can comment on?

A.   One time we did have an elderly disheveled man come in with a junky van who expressed interest in buying property.  At the time, I had an agent who refused to deal with him.  My dad taught me when I was young that you treat people the same whether they have five cents or five million dollars.  He ended up paying $150,000 cash for a property and my former agent was kicking herself for prejudging him.  Back then, homes were selling for $30,000 to $40,000.

Q.  Since you sell real estate in both New Hampshire and Vermont, are there big differences between the states in regards to real estate?

A.  Vermont has quite a few more restrictions.  In Vermont, you are not allowed to put Sold, Sale Pending, Price Reduction or other signs on the property.  We also have restrictions due to Act 250 and Land Gains taxes if you hold the property for less than six years.  In New Hampshire, they are not so restrictive.

Q.  Are there any services your agency provides that people may be surprised to hear about?

A.   We do offer buyer brokerage services and can provide a buyer's agent to help you with your purchases.  People don't realize this service doesn't cost them anything.  The commission on the sale is split between the buyers agent and seller's agent.  With the Multiple Listing Service, we can show anyone's listing.  We also do a lot of market analysis and we do not charge for that service.
Ask The Chamber

Q.   I have a friend with a very small non-retail business in New Hampshire who may be interested in joining the Chamber. She was asking me about the makeup of our membership such as average business size and location.  Do you have any information you could share about our membership?

A.
Thanks for the question!  We are lucky to have a wide assortment of members representing various towns, industries, business sizes, etc.  Although our membership is increasing every day, as of this writing, we have 122 member businesses.  We also have over 25 member businesses that we fully expect to renew their membership this year but who have not yet done so.  In addition, we are continually seeking new members and hope we can count your friend among those new members.

We do not track the specific size of businesses but do track them by member category.  The breakdown is shown below.  The majority of our members, like your friend, are true small businesses with less than five employees.  Note that the Non-profit organizations and Member Towns below are not categorized by number of employees.

Member Businesses By Size


Business Size Member %
1-5 Employees 41%
20-50 Employes 9%
6-19 Employees 15%
Over 50 Employees 3%
Individual 6%
Non-Profit 21%
Member Towns 5%


As far as the location of businesses, about 65% of our businesses are located in Vermont and 35% are located in NH.   The largest concentration of our members are in the towns of Haverhill, NH and Bradford, VT.  Below is an approximate breakdown of the towns in which our businesses reside. Individual villages (e.g. Woodsville, Wells River, etc.) are included within the specific towns in which they reside.

Member Business By Location

% of Total
New Hampshire
Haverhill 29%
Orford 2%
Piermont 1%
Other 3%
Vermont
Bradford 28%
Fairlee 8%
Newbury 18%
Other 12%
Member Updates
  • ARC Mechanical  in Bradford Vermont is pleased to announce that both Cole Sanborn and Graham Browning have passed the Vermont Journeyman Plumbing exam. Both are now Journeymen Plumbers in both New Hampshire and Vermont.  Great job guys!
  • Chapman's Store  in Fairlee, Vermont recently held a very successful Wine and Food Tasting.  In addition to fine wines, Chef Martin of Ariana's Restaurant  in Orford, NH prepared delicious food for attendees!
  • CEO Maria Ryan of Cottage Hospital  in Woodsville, NH was recently named one of the 50 Rural Hospital CEOs to know by Hospital Review.  Congratulations Dr. Ryan!
  • River Bend Career and Technical Center  in Bradford, Vermont is holding a free dinner program for River Bend Alumni on March 8 at 6:00 PM. Free childcare is available.  Please RSVP by calling 802-222-5212.
  • Hatchland Farm  in North Haverhill, NH is raffling off Alfred, a 3 ft., 50 lb. chocolate bunny to raise funds for Norris Cotton Cancer Center patients.  Alfred was donated by Moosilauke Candies.  Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5 at the store.
  • Newbury Veterinary Clinic  would like to remind everyone that February is Pet Dental month.  This is the month to familiarize yourself with the importance of your pet's dental health.  Newbury Veterinary Clinic is offering 10% of all dental cleanings this month in honor of Pet Dental Month.  
  • Oxbow High School in Bradford, VT is looking for volunteers to hold free community workshops at their "Share Your Skills" day on March 19 from 1-4 PM.  If you have a skill to share, please email events@oxbowhs.org
  • The Mentoring Project of the Upper Valley in Bradford, Vermont recently welcomed two new volunteer Advisory Board members:  Bob Sandberg of Corinth and Patricia Dwyer of Bradford.  The Center is still looking for a volunteer member from Fairlee or West Fairlee.  If you are interested, please contact the center at 802-222-1624.