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



February 7
A coustic Music Jam
12:00 PM
Clifford Memorial Building
Woodsville, NH
 
February 12
11th Annual NH Small Business Day 
7:30 AM
Holiday Inn
Concord, NH
 
February 16
Animals of the North:What Will Global Climate Change Mean for Them?
7:00 PM
Bradford Academy
Bradford, VT

February 20
Opening performance of "Baggage"
7:30 PM
Old Church Theater
Bradford, VT 

For more info or details about upcoming events, please visit our WEB site at www.cohase.org
:: 802-518-0030
Dear Members:
  
As we embark on a new year, the Chamber is very excited about the opportunities before us.  We will be meeting at the end of this month to do our Strategic Planning for the year and identifying those projects and initiatives we will focus on throughout 2016.

I very much appreciate those members who have taken the time to speak with me about their ideas, concerns and recommendations for what the Chamber should focus on in 2016.  In addition, we received a good amount of feedback at the Annual Meeting.  All of your ideas will be taken into account as we identify our goals for 2016.

We will most certainly continue with some of our most successful efforts but look forward to implementing new programs and ideas this year based on your input.

Wishing everyone a enjoyable and prosperous New Year!

Warm regards,

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

  
Annual Meeting Awards
  
Thanks to all who attended our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, January 19 at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont.  Over 80 people attended our annual gala representing businesses of all types from throughout our region.

The highlight of the night's event was the presentation of our Annual Citizen of the Year Award and Business of the Year Award.  We were very pleased to present the Citizen of the Year Award to Wayne Fortier, who has been a devoted community supporter and volunteer in Haverhill, New Hampshire for many many years.  T he Business of the Year award was presented to Cottage Hospital, who in addition to being one of our region's largest employers, has been a vital regional asset and community supporter.
 
The Annual meeting also featured a fun regional trivia game; an update by the Chamber's new Executive Director, Erik Volk; and screenings of two of the Cohase 48 Hour Film Slam winning films: SPIKES and Close Quarters.  With delicious entrees provided by Lake Morey Resort's culinary masters and the chance to mingle and network, the event was a wonderful success.
Cottage Hospital's Executive Leadership with
Business of the Year Awards
Wayne Fortier accepting the Citizen of the Year Award
with Gary Scruton, presenter.


Eleventh Annual NH Small Business Day
 
We are pleased to partner with the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center and the US Small Business Administration to support the Eleventh Annual Small Business Day conference on Friday, February 12, 2016.  The event which is sponsored by TD Bank and the New Hampshire Business Review will be held at the Holiday Inn in Concord, NH.  

Small Business Day is an opportunity for small business owners and managers to receive valuable information to help their companies grow and prosper.  This event will focus on important challenges and opportunities facing small businesses.

Topics include:
  • Financing Options for Small Business - Learn about traditional and alternative (non-traditional) options for financing your small business from a panel of experts - TD Bank, Community Loan Fund, and the US Small Business Administration.
  • Business Boosters! - Accessing international trade, government contracts and the state's Job Training Fund to keep your small business competitive.  New Hampshire Division of Trade and Economic Development will describe state programs to help your small business succeed.
  • New Hampshire's Energy Crisis: How did we get here and what can we do about it? Hear from experts about New Hampshire's alarmingly high electrical energy prices, the consequences of failing to address this crisis, and BIA's efforts to raise awareness.  Presenters:  Commissioner Bob Scott, Public Utilities Commision; Carl Gustin, New England Coalition for Affordable Energy; and Jim Roche, Business and Industry Association.
The cost is $15 per person and registration is required.  To register, visit www.BIAofNH.com and click on February 12 on the events calendar.  For more information, contact Lora McMahon at (603) 224-5388, ext. 101.

To view the complete program flyer and agenda, please click here.
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.

Mark Johnson and Diane Harrington
This month we were pleased to speak with Mark Johnson of the Bliss Village Store in Bradford, Vermont.  The Bliss Village Store is located in the center of the Bradford Village Historic District and is a classic general store offering groceries, baked goods, beverages, cigarettes, beer, wine, souvenirs and a thriving deli with cafe seating in the rear.

Q. When did your purchase the Bliss Village Store and why did you decide to get into this business?

A.  I purchased the store in 1998.  I actually sold the store in April of 2011 but because of the economic downturn and other factors, the new owners were unsuccessful with it.  I took it back in 2012 and have owned it ever since.   I had been in the Education field as both a teacher and administrator and after 23 years, I wanted to do something for myself and purchased the store.

Q. Why is the store named the "Bliss" Village Store?  Was the original owner of the store named Bliss?

A.  When I purchased the store, it was actually called the Bradford Village Store.  When I went to get the liquor license, I found out that the corporation and the associated business name had been sold and I couldn't use it.  The building was originally the Bliss Hotel and so I named it the Bliss Village Store.  Also, we had customers who were still writing checks to BVS for Bradford Village Store.  Since Bliss Village Store has the same initials, it worked well.

Q.  Any historical remnants of the original hotel?  Have you found anything interesting?

A.   A few things like an old cash register but most things had been cleared out by the previous owners.  The third floor of the building is still divided into seven tiny rooms from the original hotel.  The third floor has low ceilings and no windows.  The hallways have such low ceilings that it would be hard for anyone who is tall to walk down the hallways.  Today, it is used to house the furnaces and other equipment for the rental units.

Q.  What are the biggest challenges for your business?

A.  Right now the biggest challenge is the pressures from Montpelier: taxes and increased labor costs.  It's difficult to balance current labor costs and still give increases to long term employees.  Also, our business used to be predominantly beer, cigarettes, bread and milk.  We probably do 10-15% of the volume we once did for cigarettes.  Some of the decline is due to people going to New Hampshire where they can get these things tax-free, the decline in tobacco use, competition from Hannafords and other newer businesses, as well as the changing nature of communities.  People do not necessarily shop in the place that they live any longer.  

Q.  What are some things that you would like people to know about the Bliss Village Store that they may not know?

A.   Well, food service is one of the biggest pieces of our business.  Our deli is one of our most popular services.  We also have quite a few long term employees who have worked here longer than  I have owned the business.  Donna Harrington in the deli has been here for 30 years.  Donna Lally, another employee, has been here for 25-26 years.  We also have one of the largest assortment of craft beers in the area.  We draw folks from quite a distance to purchase beer.  We also have an eclectic assortment of wines that are priced under what you would pay elsewhere.  We are also open 7 days a week which is not true of all the convenience stores in the area.
Ask The Chamber

Q.    Is the Cohase Chamber involved in any lobbying efforts?  I have issues with taxation and business regulation that I would like to see addressed.  Can the Chamber assist with that?

A.
Unlike some Chambers, the Cohase Chamber has chosen to not engage in lobbying or take positions on political issues or candidates.   We believe our goals are better served by working in our communities to help improve the economic climate.  Our unique presence as a Chamber that represents communities in two states, each with their own challenges and priorities, as well the size of our Chamber and Chamber staff, make such an effort difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, we have learned that our Chamber members have a wide assortment of political viewpoints and we do not wish to alienate any of our members by taking a stance that is opposition to their viewpoints.  

It should be noted that both Vermont and New Hampshire have statewide Chambers of Commerce who are actively involved in lobbying efforts.  While we are not currently members of those Chambers, we certainly encourage members who share their political viewpoints to support them as well as to individually contact their legislators to voice their opinions.  In Vermont, you can visit the Vermont Chamber of Commerce's Web site at  http://www.vtchamber.com/ or call them directly at (802) 223-3443.  In New Hampshire, you can visit the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire at  http://www.biaofnh.com/ or call them at (603) 224-5388.
Member Updates
  • Windy Ridge Orchard  i n Haverhill is expanding their Cider House Cafe.  The Cafe will move into the orchard's Seven Birches winery space to increase its kitchen and seating capacity.  The Winery at Seven Birches is moving to a new space in Lincoln, NH.
  • We were greatly saddened to hear of the closing of The Brick Store in Bath, NH.  The owners have stated that after 24 years, they do not have the financial, emotional or physical resources to keep it open.
  • The town of Fairlee Vermont was recently awarded a $9608 Planning Grant from the Department  of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to conduct a Fairlee Village Center Build-Out and Capacity study. Faiirlee will have a year and a half to complete this project.
  • The Newbury Village Store in Newbury, VT is looking for locally produced products.  If you produce or know someone who produces local products (food, clothing, art items, etc.), stop in and talk with Dave!
  • The Aldrich General Store in North Haverhill, NH recently announced their own line of quality sauces, relishes and other products.  Stop by and try them today!
  • Always Fit Athletic Club in Woodsville, NH is sponsoring a monthly raffle for the chance to win a 1 month membership. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to a local charity each for a total of 12 donations to 12 different charities.
  • Nootka Lodge in Woodsville, NH is offering Ski & Stay specials for Bretton Woods and Cannon Mountain.  Significant savings available!  Check their WEB site for details at www.nootkalodge.com
  • Old Church Theater is looking for a Stage Manager and light/sounds person for their upcoming performances of Baggage.  Contact Peter Richards at 802-222-5801 for more information. 
  • River Bend Career and Technical Center in Bradford, VT has announced their new WEB site which allows students to apply online.  Visit their site at www.rbctc.org for more information.