for economic growth

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Last modified: 1/27/2016 6:09:02 PM
Find the strengths and identify the weaknesses — that’s the plan for developing Wilton’s economy.

On Monday, the Select Board agreed to contract the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension to help lead a Wilton task force in a town-wide business survey which will generate a report laying the groundwork for an action plan.

For $2,500, UNHCE will help develop a business retention and expansion leadership program, assist the town in visiting and surveying local business, and help identify three to five economic development projects for the town to focus on.

“We’re looking to identify three key factors that would influence why a business would stay or locate here, and we’re looking to identify any red flags right away,” said Select Board Chair Rick Swanson. “We want to distill what are the main weaknesses, strengths, opportunities and threats.”

The town does not have a current economic development committee, nor has it named a task force to work with UNHCE on this project, and is currently accepting volunteers. The survey will likely begin in the summer, said Swanson, and a report will be written by UNHCE within 45 days of the completion of business visitations throughout Wilton.

Much of the economic development discussion in town has focused on Main Street, where some storefronts have remained empty for years. Several businesses on Main Street, including its two restaurants, Roam Cafe and Antonia’s Greek Kitchen and Pizzeria, closed their doors this summer. The town has been trying to stem the tide of closing businesses, and find ways for those that have moved in this year — including Second Glances thrift store, Local Share and Wilton Attic Finds — to stay viable.

The Select Board has held several meetings with local business owners and the Main Street Association over the past two years to identify some of the issues — with the Route 101 bypass, too-strict zoning regulations when it comes to businesses, and competition of neighboring towns and online shopping being among the common themes.

UNHCE has done a similar survey and selection of economic development opportunities in the nearby communities of Milford, Amherst and Wolfborough.

A survey asking Wilton residents and shoppers about the current strengths and weaknesses of the business economy can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/WiltonEconomy. The survey also asks for volunteers to serve on an economic development committee.



Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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