MGC Community Mitigation Fund grant recipient spotlight: City of Northampton

The MGC recently awarded the City of Northampton with a Community Mitigation Fund grant of $29,000 for continued marketing activities, building upon those already funded by the MGC.

Those activities include an evaluation of the marketing campaign performance from 2019 and planning for 2020, campaign planning activities, focus groups with businesses, and strategizing on how to expand the campaign to include business segments.

The city was previously awarded $100,000 in 2017 by the MGC to help mitigate the economic impact that casinos in Massachusetts have on their surrounding communities.

In 2018, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz announced that $15,000 of the grant would go towards a contract with Rhyme Digital, an Easthampton-based digital marketing agency, for a plan to attract new visitors to the city as patrons head to MGM Springfield.

This year’s grant provided the necessary funding for the development of the “Northampton Live” website, which was launched in April 2019 and curates content from calendars and social media postings that relate to Northampton.

“Actually letting the community create the content, letting business owners create the content,” Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz told 22 News. “So, if you are visiting the Pioneer Valley and you hear about this place called ‘Northampton,’ we’ll ask you to check out Northampton.live and you can find out what’s happening just up the road in the city.”

The site highlights events and happenings in the Northampton community, featuring categories for arts/entertainment, beauty/wellness, food/drink, music/nightlife and shopping, with a newsletter for those who sign up, as well.

“One of the things we wanted to use this grant for was to highlight the authenticity of a small city/downtown like Northampton,” Rhyme Digital president Blair Winans said. “Throughout this project, we have met personally with dozens of small business owners and gotten to know their stories, their struggles, and successes. There are some great stories happening in Northampton, and this platform is going to help provide opportunities for us to share those stories with the world and help visitors appreciate what makes Northampton unique.”

Writers for the site have also made lists to help those visiting Northampton get the best out of their experience, including a piece on the “Top 5 Best Places to Unwind.”

“So far, we’ve gotten really good feedback,” Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Winans said Northampton Live has seen 25,000 website visits since it launched on April 15, with 1,300 Facebook followers, 850 Instagram followers, 800 email subscribers and 2.5 million ad impressions/views.

“The initial grant will have a big impact in getting this site up and off the ground and allow us to build a core audience and solid foundation for future marketing efforts,” Winans said. “It has been a while since Northampton has had a sustained and consistent tourism/marketing program, and this grant has helped us put the key components in place that will help sustain it long into the future.”

The MGC recently awarded more than $4 million in Community Mitigation Fund grants to several municipalities and other eligible entities across Massachusetts. Since 2015, the MGC has awarded approximately $16 million in grants from the Community Mitigation Fund.

Visit the Community Mitigation Fund page on MassGaming.com to learn more about the grants and their purposes.

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