Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, August 15, 2008

This Could Be The Start Of Something Big

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Alexandra McNitt (508) 347-2761,


Sturbridge Heritage & Preservation Partnership unveils a brand identity and ad campaign for “The Sturbridge Townships”
Sturbridge, MA (August 14, 2008) – A regional partnership representing local
business and government launched a new brand identity and advertising
campaign today. The marketing program, commissioned by the Sturbridge
Heritage & Preservation Partnership (SHPP) in conjunction with the
Sturbridge Area Tourist Association (SATA), is designed to attract visitors
and increase hospitality and retail business throughout the region,
showcased as “The Sturbridge Townships.”

Promoting the theme of “Everything but ordinary,” the campaign, which is
accessible at invites potential visitors to explore the wide variety of unique tourism, hospitality and retail
attractions available throughout the area. The names of each town, including
Sturbridge, Southbridge, Charlton, the Brookfields, Brimfield, Holland,
Wales and Spencer, are listed in the debut print advertisement appearing
today in a special Fall Foliage issue of Yankee Magazine.

“The new moniker for the region builds on the high levels of awareness and
positive equity in the name Sturbridge,” said Alexandra McNitt, executive
director of the Central Mass South Chamber of Commerce and Sturbridge Area
Tourist Association (SATA). “At the same time, we are telling people we
offer a wide array of places to visit and experiences to enjoy here.”

The logo for the region, featuring an illustration of a tree branch and
birds, points to the natural beauty of the area. Outdoor enthusiasts and
recreation seekers are primary target audiences for the campaign, produced
by RDW Group, a regional marketing firm. The multi-media campaign includes
advertisements in magazines, on radio, billboards, internet banner ads, and
a new web site and brochure for SATA. Additional promotional activities and
events are being developed.

Jim Donahue, executive director of Old Sturbridge Village, expressed
optimism that tourism to the region as a whole can be revitalized. “People
are drawn to the authentic, genuine nature of this area,” he said. “This new
brand and marketing campaign delivers that promise in a way that will appeal
to a wide variety of visitors and likewise help a broad base of local
businesses here.”

The SHPP initiative was formed to develop and market a unified tourist
message and identity for the region. State funding was dedicated to support
the SHPP initiative in the FY2007 and FY2008 budgets. Participants include:
Michael Cimini - owner, Yankee Spirits; James Correia - owner, White’s
Landing; James Donahue - president, Old Sturbridge Village; Michael
Harrington, Sr. - owner, The Publick House Historic Inn & The Hawthorne
Hotel; Ann Lindblad - director of Marketing & Communications, Old Sturbridge
Village; James Malloy - Sturbridge Town Administrator; Alexandra McNitt -
executive director, Chamber of Commerce/Sturbridge Area Tourist Association;
Russell Prentiss - general manager, Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference
Center; William Reid – director of External Affairs, The Last Green Valley;
Richard Rossman - owner, Post & Boot and Member, Browse the Brookfields; and
Nancy Salem - manager, The Salem Cross Inn.

“It is exciting to put a fresh face on the region and put our best foot
forward,” said State Senator Stephen Brewer, who represents the region and
was instrumental, along with State Rep. Todd Smola, in securing the funding
for the initiative. “Even more exciting is the potential for significant,
positive economic impact at a time when we could really use it.”

“Securing funding for this campaign is recognition that our local
businesses and citizens are being heard,” said Rep. Smola. “Our success is
important and our contribution to the economic well-being of the
Commonwealth is valued.”

The first phase of the initiative was a regional economic study conducted by
RDW Group and Ninigret Partners, an economic development research and
planning firm. The study found that tourism represents a significantly
larger share of the local economy than in other areas of Massachusetts.
Because this dependency has increased in recent years, the region should act
to protect its economic base in tourism, hospitality and retail, the study

The study, including interviews with local visitors during the peak tourism
seasons last year, also found that most visitors to the region currently
originate from within a 75-mile radius and typically spend one day here.
Visitors said they appreciate the natural beauty and charm of the area. Once
here, visitors said they would like more to do. The study points to
potential outdoor recreation as a prime market opportunity.

In addition to the advertising program, the study suggested a number of
policy recommendations for further consideration. Recommendations include
developing regional design standards, creating a zoning and land use task
force, and conducting an evaluation of existing resources for immediate
improvement, particularly in the area of outdoor recreation.

The SHPP group will continue to meet during the coming months to guide the
promotional campaign and begin to implement other study findings.


  1. This is a great start. I did visit the web site and found it ok. They did have Wrights Factory Outlet advertised. I was under the impression that this store and factory closed. The web site needs to be updated it actually looks like another web site that was to attract tourists to Sturbridge. Anyway it is a step in the right direction.

  2. The study and conclusion is only as good as the follow through. Only time will tell if the GBIS groupies, including the Chamber of Commerce president, will take the advice seriously. Greedy Business in Sturbridge members should understand that positive changes can be sought that benefit town residents as well as their greed.


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