Letter: MBA must prove its case going forward


To the Editor:As always, Manchester's town meeting was an inspirational commitment to one-on-one, neighbor-to-neighbor democracy. I spoke in favor of Article 16, a non-binding environmental resolution that affirms our community's commitment to climate action and renewable energy. This resolution passed by a near-unanimous voice vote.I arrived at the meeting inclined to support Article 8, an authorization of $50,000 from the Taxpayer Relief Reserve Fund to support the Manchester Business Association—the volunteer organization that was formed after the collapse of the local Chamber of Commerce. The MBA will use the funds to promote Manchester and invest in other visitor and tourist services, including ITV Fest. But I was looking forward to the debate and was open to persuasion, as $50,000 is a serious amount of taxpayer money. There were valid arguments on both sides. In the end, I did vote "aye" with the majority—a vote of faith in our local business leaders and their ability to invest this money wisely, with measurable returns, to diversify and expand Manchester's economy.I have significant experience as a grantwriter, so I know that any successful grant proposal includes (1) a detailed budget, outlining in advance how the money will be spent and (2) an extensive set of metrics that will measure activities and tangible outcomes that can be directly related to the grant expenditures. While the motion to establish an oversight panel failed, I would encourage the MBA to view this money—this generous grant from the residents of Manchester—through a similar lens. Beyond a general rise in visitor numbers and sales revenues—which, when it comes right down to it, is difficult to link directly to marketing initiatives—how will the MBA measure the effectiveness of this grant? A year from now, what metrics will you submit to the voters to prove your progress? It's a great way to think about this project as it begins, and I'm sure this brainstorming has already occurred within the MBA and that this information is readily available.I'm sure many Manchester residents would be gratified to see a response published in the Journal, and online. It establishes a useful standard of accountability that should guide your work and your investments as the year progresses. Congratulations on the successful vote!Kathleen JamesManchester


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