Well, it’s been quite a year here at GSFABA. It was my first as the official chief cook and bottle washer -- new challenges, opportunities, and ideas come across my desk every day and it’s been quite a ride!
It’s fun to look back at all we’ve done in 2016, beginning with 100% new staff (me, Shira, and our bookkeeper, ML), new board members, and a redesigned website with improved member options. Members can update photos, events, contact info, and – oh yeah – pay dues on-line! Shelburnefalls.com is THE go-to website for the region, with over 50,000 hits in 2016. We’re looking to increase traffic in 2017, so make sure your information is accurate and up-to-date!
GSFABA successfully produced the annual Auction, two ArtWalks, RiverWalk, the Bridge of Flowers 10K, the Iron Bridge Dinner, and Moonlight Magic, plus a host of behind-the-scenes activities including:
· Working with local Tourism Councils to leverage over $1 million (yes, million!) in regional advertising;
· Advocating for the region through participation in advocacy days on Beacon Hill and by sitting on economic development committees with FRCOG, the Franklin County Chamber, the Creative Economy Network in Springfield, and the Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership Committee;
· Managing the banner program and the pole banners along Bridge Street in Shelburne Falls;
· Working with the towns of Shelburne and Buckland through the Shelburne Falls Area Partnership on place making activities, parking concerns, and the cultural district;
· Managing signage along the Trail; and
· Responding to frequent inquiries from businesses, tourists, and residents regarding almost anything!
New endeavors in 2016 included:
· Conducting a member survey to find out what we’re doing well and what we need to improve;
· Business After Hours: Seven were held this year in direct response to members asking for more networking opportunities. We plan to continue these monthly networking meetings in 2017. Let us know if you’d like to host one!
· HATCH (Hilltown Arts & Thriving Community Happenings) funded artists’ visions for community engaged art events (it was so successful that we just launched HATCH 2!); and
· Second Saturdays in Shelburne Falls instead of ArtWalks – again, in response to member feedback.
Looking forward to the new year:
The Board has embarked on a strategic planning process to guide our work in the next three to five years. Look for details in upcoming Business Bulletins.
Beginning in January, we’ll send this bulletin out to our entire email list of over 2,000 (instead of sending it just to members). With so many more eyes on the bulletin, we see this as a huge member benefit and encourage you to send items for inclusion in the listings. Please send your information with the subject title: Business Bulletin to email@example.com.
We’re also going to begin a membership drive. We are stronger together than apart and to gain new members, we’ll offer a reduced fee for the first year of membership to new (to us) businesses for a limited time beginning February 1, 2017. Returning members that have been out of the organization for at least two years will also be eligible for the special introductory rate of $99.00.
Please help us spread the word and enlist new members so we can continue to maintain and upgrade the websites, buy advertising and market events, advocate on behalf of the region, produce arts & cultural events, become more active in promoting our natural resource-based economy (recreation and agriculture), and give the Northeast Berkshire region a voice statewide.
Our events calendar for 2017 includes: HATCH events, Second Saturdays, Business After Hours, The Fabulous February Fringe Festival, the Auction, two membership breakfasts (April & October), the Bridge of Flowers 10K, the Iron Bridge Dinner, and Moonlight Magic. GSFABA will not produce a RiverFest/Walk in 2017.
June's Second Saturday may have a river appreciation theme (not definite as of this writing), but the traditional river festival has run its course. Increased costs, combined with diminishing vendor interest and volunteer support, makes producing the event too costly. If you know of individuals or community organizations who may be interested in taking it on, we're happy to share information.
Additional events we're involved with or support in some way include the Winter Hoopla at The Art Garden, Piti Theater's Syrup Festival, Cider Days, and Crafts of Colrain.
Thank you for your support throughout the year. From all of us here at GSFABA, we look forward to working for and with you in 2017 and wish you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!