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January 13. 2013 9:19PM

Windham officials make it a habit to visit local businesses

WINDHAM - With many new businesses opening up shop in Windham last year, those at Town Hall have extended a friendly welcome and a pledge of support.

"We really made it a priority to reach out to these businesses and welcome them into our community," Community Development Director Laura Scott said on Monday. "Then we realized there were many existing businesses here in town that we hadn't heard from in quite a while."

With Enterprise Bank stepping forward to sponsor the program, the town of Windham launched its first ever Business Visitation program early last year, and the plan now is to keep up the good work in 2013.

By all accounts, it's been a huge success, Scott said.

"We visited a total of 50 businesses last year, at no cost to the town," she said. "Now we're hoping to visit another 50 in 2013."

The program serves three purposes, she said: It offers community support to both established businesses and those just starting out; sheds light on the concerns, challenges and needs faced by area businesses; and gives business owners the chance to share ideas for improving the town's business climate.

Scott said she's in the process of contacting local business owners so she can schedule visits at their convenience. The visits aren't mandatory, she said, but they're definitely encouraged.

"Maybe they have some questions about things that are going on in town, but they don't really know who to ask," she said. "A lot of times, folks have concerns about building permits, tax collection, fire codes or other topics. That's where I come in and put them in touch with the right person."

As part of the program, the town provides each visited business with an information packet detailing local, regional and state resources available to them.

"Business owners are pretty busy running their businesses, and they may not have time to spend researching such resource opportunities," said Scott. "So this is sort of a one-stop-shop."

The benefits, she said, are mutual since business owners often share their suggestions with town officials.

"We definitely heard a lot of great ideas last year," she said.

Business owners wishing to schedule a town visitation may contact Scott at 432-3806 or send email inquiries to lscott@windhamnewhampshire.com.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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