Marketing, people, I’m talking about marketing!
I know there are people who are passionate about Laidlaw, one way or the other. I agree it is a big issue, and both Berlin papers have done a miserable job reporting on it. I intend to change that. I want to find out more about the company, about its history, about North American Dismantling, and about every aspect of biomass as it affects the citizens of Berlin.
BUT IT IS ONLY ONE ISSUE!
Will bringing Laidlaw to the area solve all Berlin’s problems? No. Will keeping Laidlaw from opening in the area solve all Berlin’s problems? No.
Stop trying to make the story of Berlin the story of Laidlaw. It isn’t; it is only one part. I intend to use this blog to discuss all the issues I see as pertenant. Anyone who would like to join in the discussion is welcome.
Nancy Clark, owner of the Glen Group, a marketing company in North Conway hired to market the North Country, said she doesn’t see the boiler as that big an issue, whether it’s making electricity or rusting away. There are bigger issues to deal with than this. Even if North American Dismantling conspired with Laidlaw to sell them the boiler so PSNH can buy a biomass plant in five years that isn’t the biggest issue in Berlin. It isn’t the thing that will cause the city to fail or allow it to succeed.
Norm Charest said Berlin doesn’t have anything to market. He said the blight has to go before it is worth it. I completely disagree. I think Mr. Charest is afflicted with the same disease everyone else that has stared at the boiler too long suffers from: blindness. Or call it a lack of vision. There are business people moving here. They see opportunity. Burned out buildings will keep some people away — people looking for a sure thing. But that doesn’t mean they will keep everyone away.
People in search of a guaranteed investment will not come to Berlin. The city can’t offer a 10 percent rate of return. But people like Curt Burke are willing to invest millions of dollars in the area. Is he crazy? Or does he see something?
Coupled with Tim Cayer, Katie Paine, and Tom Bendah, that makes a spark. As Berlin knows, it only takes a spark to start a fire.
People are moving to the area. I have been profiling businesses for more than a month of people from here and from away who want to live in Berlin. It can draw. Why does even Mr. Charest refuse to see that?
I worry when the economic development director has lost faith in the city. But in this case I don’t worry for Berlin. The city does not have its plans in order to attract people. It is not doing a good job at marketing. But people are coming. The efforts of the state, which have failed Berlin for years, appear to be one of the few efforts citizens can count on. And yet people come.
Dick Huot, manager of Northern Forest Heritage Park, got a Maine television program to profile St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts, Northern Forest Heritage Park, Gorham Moose Tours and Jericho Mountain State Park. Where are other efforts like this? If the opinion is the area is too blighted and burned out to market, than this would be folly. Guess what? It isn’t folly. It is exactly what the city should be doing, the economic development director should be doing, and every private business in the area should be doing. The chamber of commerce, of which Mr. Huot is a member, should be working as hard as possible to get these images of the city out there.
Take a look at this video. Is it really so hard to imagine these pictures can’t bring people to the area? Is there really so much blight this sort of effort is futile?
I don’t think so, and so I don’t want to see a valid discussion about marketing turned into a debate about biomass.
Want to talk about Laidlaw? Fine, but don’t try to drown out other pertinent discussions with your personal obsession, at least not on this blog. I, as the local newspaper reporter, am working to improve every aspect of Berlin and the surrounding towns. That means I will be covering dozens of issues, and one issue cannot take all the oxygen out of the room, extinguishing all other conversation. So please, open up a little, and care about more in Berlin than just one issue. It does not all come back to Laidlaw. It used to all come back to the mill. Those days are over; help me determine what comes next.
And one more thing: instead of asking, “What is the state going to do to market the area?” when I say, “You can read about it in next week’s Berlin Reporter,” pick up a copy of the paper. Don’t ask me to tell you what I’m reporting on for free. You can buy 40 hours worth of my work for 50 cents — that’s cheap enough.