EDA hires economic development contractors

  • The Economic Development Authority hired two new consultants for marketing and increasing connections between the High School and workforce during its meeting on Tuesday. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Mary Lou O’Neil —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript file photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, October 26, 2017 10:0AM

The Economic Development Committee voted to hire two consultants to forward their goals of town development during its Tuesday meeting.

The committee dipped into a fund approved by voters last year for the purpose of hiring personnel for economic development. The committee approved $20,000 of the $70,000 fund to hire Mary Lou O’Neil and Fire Brand International, a marketing and digital strategy company, to compose economic development strategies.

O’Neil is the former school-to-career coordinator at ConVal High School. She retired from the position last year but the program, which helps students explore career opportunities through internships and interviews, is still active. The committee is interested in developing a connection between employers and schools to pinpoint “soft skills” that students are graduating lacking and develop programming within the schools to develop those skills. 

The committee will contract with O’Neil to develop internship programs leading to employment, identify “certifications” that would be valuable for local employers when evaluating potential employees, and work with schools to build awareness among students and parents of potential direct career paths and college alternatives.

The committee also agreed to hire Fire Brand International to develop marketing and branding strategies to retain the local workforce, track performance metrics of economic development efforts.

It was agreed to approve up to $10,000 to contract with both O’Neil and Fire Brand, with the anticipation that after the contractors adapt plans, that there may be a need for additional funds to be approved. Community Development Director Peter Throop clarified to the board that he didn’t anticipate using more than a total of $35,000 this year. All work plans will have to be reviewed by the town and approved by Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett. 

The board also discussed using their budget to update the town’s website.

“We’ve heard over and over again that the town website has a lot of information on it, but it’s difficult to find what they’re looking for,” said Throop.

Maintaining the town’s website is usually paid for through the town’s budget, said Throop, but if the EDA felt that updating the website was urgent, they could also expend funds from their budget, said Throop. But after hearing the quoted cost of updating the website from the town’s current website provider, which ranged from between $8,850 to $12,225, the board said they would need to see additional quotes before taking any action. 

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