Courtesy Elaine Sopchak
Last month, Gov. Phil Scott annouLast month, Gov. Phil Scott announced the launch of “Think Vermont,” a new campaign aimed at bringing in more people and businesses and improving the state’s economy. The marketing plan will work to shift the state’s current demographic trends to ensure that individuals and businesses will stay and remain successful here.
According to Elaine Sopchak, project manager for Think Vermont, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development worked with a consultant to develop the marketing plan, of which the website is the first step. She explained that they needed a home to which people could refer when they saw advertisements or information about Vermont — that home is found at ThinkVermont.com. Now that the website is complete, they are working to actually implement the marketing plan. In the future, the campaign will also involve things like events, print advertising and social media.
“The point of the Think Vermont campaign in general is to improve the economic landscape in Vermont,” Sopchak said. “We are hoping to encourage businesses to expand [to], or open [in], or relocate to, Vermont, and we’re encouraging folks to relocate to Vermont and stay in Vermont.”
The main tabs on the ThinkVermont.com read “Live in Vermont,” “Grow Your Business,” “Work,” “Play,” “Connect With Us” and “Newsroom,” each with information highlighting Vermont’s uniqueness and benefits for residents and potential residents. The website and the campaign place a strong emphasis on the scale of the state as a benefit to its residents.
“The scale is very special,” Sopchak commented. “We have a small population; therefore, it is an opportunity for you to interact with the people that you elect in a way that you can’t possibly do in most states. … We wanted to emphasize that the people who are in certain public services in Vermont are accessible and really eager to help.”
The project manager cited the Department of Economic Development as an example of this tendency, explaining that its staff members are visiting businesses, cities and towns every day, making themselves and their services available. ThinkVermont.com also works to make connections with elected and appointed officials accessible to all. The “Connect With Us” tab provides lists of useful contact information, including official state business contacts and contacts and leaders from a variety of industries.
A slide on the home page of the website reads, “Your U.S. Senator chats with you while you’re in line at the local hardware store. The governor drives a race car at the local speedway. And everyone here knows someone who knows someone …”. This slide is emblematic of the closeness and tight-knit communities of the state that the campaign hopes to bring to light.
“People’s own networks can expand significantly by virtue of the fact that our communities are small,” Sopchak said.
Think Vermont works to reach the people who have a little bit of an affinity for the state already, be it through a family vacation here or because they attended college in Vermont. Sopchak shared that she finds that the extensive community in Vermont appeals to students who are graduating, since they can do big things without being lost in an anonymous city. The state’s large philanthropic and nonprofit community also seems to draw recent graduates in.
“I’m realizing that young people are really attuned to thinking with their values, and they want to live in a place that values social justice, access to food and affordability. … We do a lot of work all over the state in those areas, and I think that appeals to younger folks.”
Sopchak also noted that Vermont’s “high quality of life,” emphasized in the campaign, aligns well with some of these values that could not exist in a big corporation in a big city.
“Also, there’s a lot of room for entrepreneurship here, so it’s a good atmosphere for young people trying to start their own business,” she said.
Think Vermont highlights the state’s efforts to maintain positive businesses and a clean environment alongside happy lifestyles.
“We’re walking a balance between creating a quality of life, … having a clean environment, and providing an atmosphere where businesses can thrive,” Sopchak added.
Now that the website is launched, this initiative will continue to grow and address different elements of the state. Sopchak explained that right now, Think Vermont is an awareness campaign, but that over time, its messages will be refined as the campaign’s designers decide what it is they are hoping to accomplish.
“It’s sort of new ground for us because the state of Vermont has not traditionally done a great deal of marketing about itself. So we’re excited to be telling stories about Vermont and about successful Vermonters and about our 251 communities … because our quality of life can’t be beat.”
Visit ThinkVermont.com to see more and learn about the additional initiatives of the campaign.