Poultney continues to move ahead as the town and the area recover from the closing of Green Mountain College in 2019 and the COVID pandemic in 2020. The Poultney Select Board last week approved a new branding for the town including a new logo, color palette, and slogan, as part of a year-long effort by local volunteers. The effort was supported by the Castleton Content Lab of Castleton University, an organization of marketing students that provide pro-bono design services to local communities.
The recovery effort actually started before the college even closed, as area residents gathered to learn more about what they could do to offset the devastating effects. The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development partnered with the Vermont Council on Rural Development sent a team to help residents chart a course for recovery. The community gathered and created a plan called “Poultney Comes Together”.
From that effort, and with assistance from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, Poultney received a USDA grant to hire economic experts to guide the efforts of the volunteers. Sarah Pelkey was hired as Economic Coordinator, and Cecilia Ward of J.C. Consulting as consultant.
In 2020, the Town was one of ten communities across the country chosen to receive planning assistance from the EPA Office of Community Revitalization, through a program called Recreational Economy for Rural Communities (RERC), to spur economic activity through recreation. The project was delayed until 2021 because of the COVID pandemic.
Meetings were finally convened online in February 2021. Out of the ten communities awarded planning assistance, Poultney drew the highest attendance with 80 volunteers participating. After a week-long series of planning meetings, the community chose goals and formed committees to work on specific parts of the new plan.
One of those aimed to create a new brand for Poultney. In discussion with the experts, it was decided that branding was needed to show unity in the community, to move away from reliance on Green Mountain College, as a tool to be used for economic development, and for promotion and social media.
The Poultney Branding Committee, led by Goal Champion Nic Stark, spent months consulting with individuals, local design professionals, non-profit and civic organizations, and businesses in Poultney to answer the question “What is Poultney to you?” From that outreach effort, the Castleton Content Lab created a number of design concepts.
Guided by design professionals Nic Stark and Ken White, the committee then adjusted those designs, again made the rounds of individuals, organizations, and businesses to ask for reactions, and adjusted the design once again. The slogan “Heart of the Slate Valley” was derived from a similar one used for the town in 1938, ‘Heart of the Slate Belt’, discovered by the committee in posts on the ‘Poultney Life’ Facebook group run by Janice B. Edwards.
Finally, the Branding Committee asked for letters of support, and with bated breath after a year of work Goal Champion Nic Stark made a presentation to the Poultney Select Board. With substantial community support and praise for the volunteer-led design and process illustrated by the letters of support, the Select Board last week unanimously adopted the design as the Town’s official logo. But the committee’s work isn’t over, as it considers how to use the new brand to help Poultney and the surrounding area continue its recovery, and once again become vibrant, active communities. The town of Poultney is already well on its way as more and more businesses and organizations fill up storefronts or develop home offices. Visitors are returning, many new residents have moved to the town, and the prospects are bright. Learn more at poultneyplanning.com/branding: show everyone that it can happen here