38R Merrimac Street, Newburyport, MA  01950  |  978.462.6680  |

  • Boardwalk-Logo2016
  • BartletMall-Logo2016
  • BartletMall_fall-Logo2016
  • Harbor-Logo2016
  • InnStreet-Logo2016
  • MarketSquare-Logo2016
  • MarketSquare2-Logo2016
  • PlumIslandBeach-Logo2016
  • RoofTops-Logo2016
  • WelcomeSign-Logo2016


Welcome to the Greater Newburyport Chamber Blog Page, NEW in 2015!

Here you can find information about upcoming Chamber events, community events, as well as guest blog posts written by other Chamber members.

Check back often to see what’s new!

Interested in guest blogging?  Email the Marketing Department.

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Monday, July 24, 2017

How Can We Support “The Arts”?

art-matters_2017July 2017

Every year I begin my Christmas shopping around December 12th. It’s after my birthday and I feel I deserve my own attention around that day. Throughout the years, and as my son grew and toys were no longer on the wish lists, I turned to doing my shopping locally.

Now we’re lucky to live in a downtown that accommodates so many choices, especially for someone interested in giving (buying/supporting) objects of art, which I do and I am. This year’s choice for us was Valerie’s Gallery on State Street in Newburyport. There I found handmade pieces at prices in my range that were beautiful unique pieces of art. It was a pleasure.

There are many other scenarios however, that exemplify ways of supporting—on purpose—the economy of art that exists in your towns and communities, wherever on this beautiful earth that may be.

art-matters4_2017Supporting the Arts is a personal choice, like deciding that WGBH is something you like, and use, and therefore want to support.

There are collectors here in our city and area dedicated to supporting art. In the corporate world there is Scott Signore at MATTER COMMUNICATION, who once hired me to give his employees a walking art tour of some of Newburyport’s finest Art Locations because he thought it would be fun for them and good for the Art Economy…

…To Dr. Mike Strem of Strem Chemicals, in a sprawling conclave of buildings in Newburyport’s Industrial Park, a worldwide and world class manufacturer who has FILLED his corporate offices, manufacturing and shipping facilities—right down to the LUNCH area—with art, and who gives his employees pieces of art to mark their anniversaries with the company…

art-matters3_2017…To Michael J. Comb, President and CEO at Cell Signaling Technology in Beverly and Danvers, MA whose corporate art collection houses the finest artists this region has to offer, including PEG artists Sorin Bica and Paula Estey, and whose employees are part of the selection process, and whose website under Corporate Social Responsibility lists their “Commitment to the Arts”….

My personal favorite is to purchase art for others—family members; their corporate offices or workplaces; our local hospital.

The list of ways of intentionally, and with great thought, bringing art into our lives is endless. The repercussions are….GLOBAL; for as we support the artist, the gallery, our tastes, the reach extends, onward and outward. The reach extends until…..happiness is felt throughout the land…… )))  

Paula Estey
Paula Estey Gallery
3 Harris Street
Newburyport, MA 01950

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Origins of Sapphire: Kashmir, Ceylon, Australian and Montana Sapphire

MarketSquareJewelers_Rings2017by Elizabeth Andrews

Sapphire, whether from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Thailand, Africa, or Montana US, all have the same chemical composition - they’re all corundums. The difference lies in their growing environments and the trace elements present during their formation.

Quality characteristics such as color and saturation, sparkle or “life”, cut and color modifiers help us determine a sapphire’s country of origin. Traveling to the source, like we have done in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Madagascar, and Africa, has allowed us to understand the sapphire markets intimately and learn from the dealers themselves where these stones come from.

The Value of Trace Elements
All gemstones form in environments where small amounts of trace elements are present. Trace elements provide gemologists with clues to determine both general body-color of a gemstone and its country of origin.

On a basic level, trace elements are what sets apart a chunk of clear corundum from an blue sapphire, from a purple sapphire, or a pink sapphire. I like to think of them as gemstone dyes, coloring the main clear body-color of the gemstone. Blue sapphires, for instance, are colored by the trace elements iron and titanium.

Though essential in color formation, through what gemologists call color centers, this isn't the only clue trace elements give us. They also give us insight into where a gemstone formed, or its country of origin. Specific trace elements, in certain quantities or concentrations, are only present in specific countries or even specific mines within those countries. Kashmir sapphires, for instance will have very different trace elements than a sapphire from Thailand, even if they are the same general body-color.

Ceylon, Sri Lankan, Sapphires
The finest Ceylon sapphires are the finest quality sapphire that is available in the market today. The stones come in a light blue to dark blue, where the darker the color, the finer the stone is. There is very rarely a Ceylon stone that is considered too dark, unlike a Thai, Australian or African stone. Ceylon stones have a true cobalt blue color, unlike an Australian or Thai stone that has more of a black-blue color.

Because Ceylon sapphires tend to be on the lighter side of the color spectrum, and they are generally cut very deep in order to bring out the saturation of color. We look for stones with a medium depth. A stone that is too shallow will causing windowing and lower saturation of color, while a stone that is too deep loses value because it “faces up” smaller than its actual carat weight.

We have been traveling to Sri Lanka for over 25 years and travel there almost annually to purchase their high quality sapphires and other rare gemstones. In Sri Lanka we are able to buy directly from the gemstone miners, who often cut and facet the gemstone, and sell the gemstone, seeing the whole process through. The country has not allowed any mechanised mining, or large businesses to come in with large equipment, which has allowed for the gemstone natural resource to be preserved for future generations. From our first trip to the island off the coast of India, sapphire prices have risen dramatically and what we considered our “secret fishing hole” has been opened up to many gemstone buyers from around the world!

Though we primarily seek out blue sapphire from the marketplace to pair with our antique and vintage mountings, we have also come home with beautiful purples, pinks, yellows and greens. These stones have the same crystal structure and chemical composition as blues, though they were exposed to different trace elements during growth. Through the process of heat treating, treaters can sometimes turn a light blue, yellow or brown stone into a blue stone, increasing its value and marketability.

Ceylon sapphires are considered the finest available sapphires in the world. Kashmir stones are known to be the finest material, but those mines have been shut down for decades and there is no reliable flow of gems from this region.

We are fortunate to have a large selection of Ceylon sapphire gemstones paired with our antique and vintage mountings for you to purchase. Whether you are looking for the perfect sapphire engagement ring, a Victorian era sapphire everyday ring, or an exquisite sapphire cocktail ring, please do not hesitate to send us a message with any questions!

Australian Sapphires
The current sapphire mined in Australia is more plentiful than Ceylon stones. These sapphires are a navy blue color and are much less expensive than some of the others we have discussed, making Australian stones affordable and beautiful!

The vast majority of what we see in commercial modern jewelry is sourced from Australia. These stones are mined, often shipped to Bangkok to be cut, where mining costs are much less expensive, and sold to large jewelry manufacturers.

Australian sapphires work perfectly for the commercial market because they are relatively uniform in color and are plentiful so they can be mass produced in jewelry. Sapphires sourced from Australia can be seen in antique jewelry because they are more of a modern discovery.

Australian sapphire is typically a dark navy blue, with green undertones. This is what most people think of sapphire color; it is rich and dark and looks great on a variety of skin tones. As the gemstones become too dark or black, they lose value dramatically. These blue/black stones are sometimes called “onyx” sapphire.

Montana Sapphires
Also called Yogo sapphires, Montana sapphires are mined from the Yogo Gulch. They tend to be light in color (blue, yellow and brown) with grey undertones.

Our friend Lonnie, who starred in our documentary “RockMen”, has mined and faceted these gemstones for 20 years. We first met him because he contacted us to sell his faceted stones. He then became an international traveling partner and gemstone buyer for us, traveling to places like Colombia, Brazil, Thailand, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and India.

Montana sapphires are usually small in size and faceted as a round brilliant. They do not command nearly the value that Ceylon stones do, but many can have a bright and lively sparkle that is similar to the sparkle of a Ceylon!

We especially love these sapphires because they were mined, cut and fashioned, and sold to us all in the United States. For someone interested in sapphire and who wants to support US products, this is a great option! They’re quite beautiful too!

Kashmir Sapphires
Kashmir sapphires were mined from the Kashmir region of northern India (at 14,500 ft)! They are considered the finest sapphires in the world. Mined for about 40 years, between 1880-1920s, these stones are not available in the modern markets. Because we work with antiques, we do see these stones in Victorian and early Deco jewelry from time to time. If we can confirm that the stone is a Kashmir, through a trace element test from the GIA, the price of the gem increases dramatically.

The GIA can sometimes identify whether a stone is from the Kashmir region by looking at the trace elements found in the gemstone, though sometimes even this test can come back inconclusive. Because each region has trace elements that are unique to the region, the GIA can conclude where the stone came from.

Kashmir sapphires are known for their velvety blue color, caused by parallel lines of silk running through the stone. They are also considered the finest color, a corn-flower medium blue color. Though the finest Ceylons can rival a Kashmir stone in color, it is inaccurate to call a Ceylon stone corn-flower blue color. This color distinction is reserved only for Kashmir stones.

Elizabeth Andrews
Market Square Jewelers

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

3 exciting old flooring options

worthingtondesign_apr2017The 1st Saturday in May brings us the Kentucky Derby, most exciting 3 minutes in sports and here are 3 exciting old flooring options for your Kitchen, Mudroom and Laundry.

May in Kentucky is a beautiful time of year. The many horse farms have bluegrass brimming and mint juleps in play as the 143rd Run for the Roses takes place. Remembering a walk of the 1995 Derby winner Thunder Gulch’s stable and farm reminds me of the new meeting and viewing pavilion under construction at the time. The horse trailers would back up to a level ‘soft ‘ brick pavers walkway that lined the way to the stud pavilion. This is the place on this particular famous horse farm breeds their horses complete with padded walls and viewing gallery. 

So this brings us to 3 different and exciting flooring options for your rugged mudroom. Think Brick.  Brick is relatively inexpensive and can easily be installed with a herringbone or chevron pattern with radiant heat giving you a ‘no fuss’ mudroom with a hip look! You can carry this look into your laundry room as well. Brick is often thought of as an outdoor material but bringing it inside for a particular space is renewing its long lasting style. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello used brick flooring and this is one of our country’s finest designed homes. Brick comes with the following Pros:

·         Design Flexibility

·         Sturdiness and Slip Resistant

·         Affordability

·         Sustainable

·         Warm, cozy, appeal

For another flooring option consider Limestone. It comes in various size tiles and warm colors that can give your mudroom, laundry room and kitchen a timeless look different than wood. Limestone tile is resilient and warms a room instantly even though it’s a stone! Its irregularity gives it a natural look and feel. Europeans uses limestone inside the home in many kitchens, pantries and mudrooms for its beauty and endurance. Some Pros for using Limestone:

·      It is a very sophisticated flooring material that needs minimum maintenance and is exceptionally attractive.

·      It has longevity and is a flexible flooring material that has a temperature free  nature.

·      It is an ideal flooring material for homes that are inclined to a healthy environment as it is convenient to clean and helps to maintain a hygienic atmosphere.

·      It provides a comfortable feeling under the foot and is very safe and secure.

Terrazzo is another oldie but goodie ancient material. Terrazzo was created by Venetian construction workers as a low cost flooring material to surface the patios around their living quarters. Originally consisting of scrap marble chips set in clay and sealed with goat milk, production of terrazzo became much easier after the introduction of electric industrial grinders and other power equipment in the 1920s.

Today Thin-set Terrazzo, composed of marble, quartz, granite and glass, is the most widely used installation method. For a residential floor you may use epoxy or a resin binding method to create an elegant floor for either a modern or traditional residential application. Some of the pros of thin-set Terrazzo:

·      Can be installed over new or existing concrete or plywood subfloors

·      Highest color availability

·      Resistant to chemicals, mold and bacteria

·      Most crack-resistant installation

·      Easy to clean

As with any of these materials there are Pros and Cons, so before you proceed with any of these options it’s good to do more research and consult with your Interior Designer to make sure these options would work for your home.

Hope you pick the Derby winner, see you in June!

Worthington Interior Design, Allied ASID

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Changing Nature of Retail: The Impact of Online Shopping on Cities

retailtrends_2017As consumers increasingly buy online, technology is changing the shape of our cities, reducing demand for retail space, increasing freight congestion, and leaving parking lots empty.

As I look at plans across the country, there are always beautiful images of people strongly along sidewalks window shopping in vibrant mixed-use centers with plenty of shops. As planners, we tend to see retail as an essential part of our communities. However, as I reflect on my own changing shopping patterns over the last few years, I recognize a dramatic shift in the amount of shopping I am doing online. 

A 2014 study found that 78 population of the U.S. population over the age of 15 bought something online in the first quarter of that year. A 2013 study found 69 percent of U.S. adults make purchases online at least monthly and 33 percent shop online weekly. If there is a child in the home you are more likely to make weekly online purchases: 40 percent of households with one child, 56 percent of households with two children, and 66 percent of households with three or more children. Consumers between the ages of 25 and 33 spend more online than any age group—averaging $2,000 per year.

Read More

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Parents' Survival Guide To Online Safety

internetsafety_2017Cell Phone Monitoring & GPS Tracking

Our children’s world is a fast moving theatre of information, entertainment, virtual relationships, and out-of-the box concepts that were unheard of just forty years ago. The internet and the prevalence of convenient, portable gadgets are a boon to modern civilization; but, their dark side hosts online predators, thieving hackers, and morbidly dangerous information.

A parent must make sure his or her child fully understands why rules regarding internet use must be followed and how specifically online predators can compromise one’s safety. This is the reason for which it is a parental obligation today to learn much about how the digital world operates, how kids use it, their lingo, and everything else pertaining to digital socialization.


The internet is such a part of our everyday lives now. In fact, we probably don’t even give it second thought. If you want the answer to something, just google it. How convenient!

Your children’s generation is the first to grow up with this advanced access. It’s no surprise if they know more about digital trends than we do, but parents have the duty to stay aware.

Children as young as 7 years old today have their own smartphones and about 90% say they’ve had access to the internet since the age of 9 or younger. How do we really know what our children are doing online?

Read More

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

5 Really Good Reasons to keep Existing Furniture

worthingtondesign_apr2017When renovating your home here are 5 really good reasons to keep existing furniture and rethink your home’s interiors.

1)    Because it’s old I should get rid of it.
Well that couldn’t be further from the truth, even if it’s not an antique you can make the table or chair work in another room or for another purpose. Often times you have only one way of thinking and using that particular piece(s); but we Interior Designers are trained to think outside the box for you! We keep you from making a costly mistakes and time by buying miscellaneous or wrong pieces. You may already have something existing we can use. We will help redirect you to spend wisely with intended priorities.

2)    It’s not my style now so I can’t use it.
Your tastes change over time and you may have loved this chair or sofa and now you cannot see how to incorporate it into your new look. We at Worthington Interior Design are masters at getting you to fall back in love with these pieces you already own. New upholstery and perhaps refinishing can make these pieces look fabulous to work with your new style. For instance, a client had some wing chairs and said “they’re old and I want to get rid of them,” but we found the perfect fabric and they were magically transformed!

3)    The color doesn’t work.
The color of your piece is the least of its problems. We have so many sources for fabrics and finishes that a new color fabric and trim, paint or stain and we can reinvent easily.

Often clients tell me these lamps I have are ugly and I need new. Well in fact this happened with a client while we were designing the interiors for her vacation home. So we took all her lamps and sourced new lampshades and brought them all back to her and she said, ‘those are not my lamps’, but in fact they were her lamps and we just tweaked them and they were like new!

4) My piece is an heirloom and comfortable buy I cannot see it working with my new renovation.
These are in fact 2 very good reasons to keep the piece! Again we can simply repair the sofa or chair, make the cushions like new and reupholster. Everything will be singing the same song in your new home. Many soft pieces like sofas and chairs need to have the springs retied and the wood connections re-glued but you must know that the older the piece the better it’s been made.

Sure the new furniture these days has a more modern appeal or just fresh and new but often it’s not made as well. Because nowadays pieces that are made as well are much more expensive! Kindel

5) I have this piece of furniture and I like it but I'm not sure how to use it.
Creating a new purpose for one of your existing pieces of furniture is part of what we do at Worthington Interior Design.  We take great pride when we can reintroduce you to your pieces and possession. Be it a lamp or a side table or a large armoire.  A Boston client purchased an Armoire for their home in Beacon Hill and she stored linens and towels. They moved to Back Bay and it became a European way to store her dishes. Then it made its way to another home and we repurposed for the flat screen TV.  And now she decided to make it the bar!

Spring is all about renewing. If you’re in a quandary about how to incorporate your existing furniture set up an appointment with Worthington Interior Design and we’d welcome the opportunity to work with you.

Worthington Interior Design, Allied ASID

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How Much Do You Spend on Professional Development?

professionaldevelopmentThere are likely professional development pieces you must keep up with for your business. Items like certifications, licenses, and other must haves. But what about the secondary training you need to learn to keep your business relevant in today’s changing marketplace? Are you keeping up? Can you afford to? What do you need to know? Here are the top skills most businesses need today and an inexpensive suggestion on how to keep with these secondary professional development requirements.

Regardless of the business that you’re in, there are new skills that we all must be learning. Even if your business is large enough and your budget robust enough that you can afford to pay others to do it, having a cursory knowledge of these new skills is important.

Marketing is no longer about a hard sell or a witty slogan. Word of mouth and referrals power strong brands. Content marketing, social media, and other forms of digital marketing need to be on your agenda. You want to create content that causes people to know, like, and trust you.

Using Graphics in Marketing
The reason this topic gets its own section is because images are becoming incredibly important in digital marketing but they’re no longer relegated to the design team. Everyone is expected to be able to use tools like Canva or Adobe Spark to create image quotes and memes for social media.

If you don’t have an analyst on board, you might want to get one if your budget allows. If not, you probably need to study up on the basics of Google analytics. You can read Google’s resources on the topics but often analytics is something most easily learned by watching and following along.

Personal Branding
Branding is about more than your business these days. It’s important to develop a personal brand and thankfully with social media, that’s not hard to do. It costs nothing but time. In addition to building a following by investing time in your personal brand, allowing people to get to know you builds the know, like, and trust people crave when doing business with companies these days. If you have no idea what a personal brand is, it’s time for you to get some help in developing yours.

Since search optimization is such a broad topic, it should be addressed outside of analytics. Even if you hire a search optimization guru, it’s important you know something about it. After all, if you care about your personal brand (and you should, remember?) you’ll be doing your own posting and should be cognizant of what keywords can help position you where you need to be.

Cyber Security or Active Shooting Situations
No one wants to learn these skills and knowledge but sadly, today it is a lot more prevalent a topic than we would’ve ever expected. While combat training isn’t essential, knowing how to minimize issues, what to look for, and how to react in an active shooter situation may help save you and your staff from a terrible situation. Classes on this topic range from information on conceal and carry to active shooter drills.

Cyber security is another concern today as cybercrime can decimate your business and your reputation. It’s no longer enough to merely update your anti-virus software. There’s a lot of cybercrime going on out there and it’s all just stealing identities. Ransomware holds your data hostage and extorts money from you to get it returned. Cybercrime costs 100-billion dollars a year.

In either situation, you can’t assume your location or industry won’t be hit.

Chamber NOTE:  The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank is hosting a Cyber Security Event on Wednesday, April 26th - FREE:  Click here for details.

These basic secondary skills are critical to business and while you can hire them out, if your do, you’re at the mercy of someone else. But at the same time, self-education takes hours to find trusted sources and many of them cost several hundred dollars. Plus, of course, you need to factor in the time it takes to digest the information they’re presenting online.
Or you could join the chamber.

Training on these secondary skills is often offered at your chamber of commerce and/or your local small business development organization. If you’re looking for economical training, the chamber is the first place to go. Even if they don’t offer a learning session on the exact topic of interest, they can often match you up with another member or organization to help you increase your knowledge for very little economic investment. Find out what’s on the chamber agenda this month.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine,, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Don't Get Swayed By These Investment "Myths"

edwardjonesinvestments_logo2017Over time, you will run into various suggestions for investing successfully. Yet upon closer inspection, many of these ideas turn out to be “myths” – which could cause you trouble if you treat them as solid advice. Here are five of these myths, along with some reasons for ignoring them:

You can find the next “big thing.” All of us probably wish we could have “gotten in on the ground floor” of Apple or Microsoft or some other tremendously profitable company. And who knows? There may indeed be a similar other business out there, waiting to take off. But it’s almost impossible for anyone to identify these potential “blockbusters.” There’s really no shortcut to investment success – you need the patience and discipline to invest for the long term, and you need to build a portfolio that’s appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance.

Investors should always seek to “buy low and sell high.” This is actually good advice – or it would be, if were possible to consistently follow it. But how can you know when the market is “high enough” to sell or “low enough” to buy? You can’t – and neither can anyone else. Trying to time the market rarely works. A more appropriate strategy is to invest regularly and to diversify your holdings among stocks, bonds, government securities and other vehicles, based on your goals and risk tolerance. Diversification can help protect you against market downturns that primarily affect just one asset class. Keep in mind, though, that diversification can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses.

It’s always smart to buy investments that have performed well recently. You may have read, in investment prospectuses, that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” These words are certainly true; just because an investment has had a good run recently, it doesn’t mean its success will continue indefinitely. You need to evaluate each investment on its own merits and on how well it fits into your overall portfolio.

International investing is too risky. In today’s global economy, it may be more risky not to invest some of your portfolio internationally. U.S. stocks represent less than half of global stock market capitalization – so by stopping at our borders, you are depriving yourself of a world of opportunities. It’s true that foreign investments carry some special risks relating to currency fluctuations and political and economic events, but you can help contain this risk by confining your international holdings to a relatively small percentage of your portfolio. A financial professional can suggest the best ways for you to add a global element to your investments.

You need a lot of money to make a lot of money. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a sizable amount of money to invest right away. But the world is full of people who started investing with small sums and ended up having enough money to enjoy the retirement lifestyle they had envisioned. If you’re just beginning to invest, put in as much as you can afford each month; as your income goes up, increase your investments. As an investor, time is your greatest ally.

Sticking to a consistent investment strategy can help you write your own investment tale – and you can leave the myths to the storybooks.

This article was written by Edward Jones.

Peter Doyle, Financial Advisor
Edward Jones

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How to Hit a Grand Slam with Your Facebook Targeting

moxie_logo2017We had yet another 'spring' snowstorm here in New England. My son Cole and his class braved the snow and celebrated their Junior Prom on Saturday night. Despite the wet, cold slushy slow, the kids had a fantastic time! Here's a picture of my handsome devil. Just ignore the fact that I still have Christmas lights and holiday garland on my staircase railing. We love the lights and aren't ready to part with them yet. :)

In this weeks marketing training video, I'll share with you some tricks to get your Facebook ads in front of your target audience. It's a waste of your precious ad spend if you don't take the time to think about exactly who you want to see your ad and their specific characteristics.

To celebrate opening day for the Boston Red Sox, during this weeks training video you will learn How to Hit a Facebook Targeting Grand Slam.

I hope this 18 minute Facebook ads beginner training video gives you a little insight on how to get started with targeting.

Julie Spence
Moxie Marketing & Media

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Monday, March 27, 2017

A Video Campaign Can Bring Your Marketing to Life

An excellent way to tell your company’s story is through marketing videos.    They support your sales staff presentations with compelling information.   They enhance Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by attracting new online followers.    They motivate your employees by sharing strategic plans. And they bring in new leads by providing current and potential customers with new reasons to do business with your company.

YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN BEST VIDEOGRAPHER.   We all recall a short time ago when making a “corporate video“ meant engaging a specialized video writer to research and draft a script and then engaging an experienced video company with videographers, studios and millions of dollars in equipment to produce a competent video.   No longer.  Today, with virtually every employee carrying a smart phone with HD quality video capability and GoPro cameras everywhere, getting access to raw video footage could not be easier.   The job now is to collaborate with your marketing company to help you to develop a strategic plan for shooting and producing your videos and then to edit and distribute them for you.

QUALITY MATTERS.   Virtually all industries, probably including many of your competitors, are making videos to grow their business.   Studies have shown that the vast majority of marketers agree that video provides the best marketing tool.   And you don’t need to have a large marketing staff to do it.  But you do need to do it right.  Studies also have shown that a majority of consumers react negatively to poorly produced videos.   You have built your company on quality products and services, and you need a quality video that will make that point.

A VIDEO IS WORTH MANY THOUSAND WORDS.  Online, videos receive three times more clicks than articles not using video.   A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth many times more than that.   If you are looking for customer leads through your website and you only have words and still pictures on it, you are missing an opportunity.   Companies that place videos right on their landing page have reported a several-fold increase in direct contacts from potential customers. 

VIDEOS ARE CREDIBLE.    Videos greatly impact the way your audiences view your company’s integrity and credibility.   They educate your customers and prospects about what you do and how you do it.    They help to make you and your company appear to be experts or spokesmen for the industry that you represent.  “How to” videos that show how one of your customers greatly improved their process by using your product or service are winners.  Viewers always give the highest score to customer endorsements that also show how the customer benefitted by working with your company.    Three quarters of millennials look for videos to answer their questions.

FREQUENCY AND CONSISTENCY.    One of the newest successful techniques for regular communications with your marketplace is “vlogs”: video blogs.    These are short video stories produced on a steady schedule, perhaps as often as weekly, for your website. They don’t have to be very complicated but they do need to be well done.  A quality series of 60-second or 120-second video blogs appearing weekly or bi-weekly can rapidly develop a fan base of people who matter to your business, and perhaps “go viral” for  you as well.    Vlogs also lend themselves to use on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and particularly YouTube. 

S!Y Communications has been producing marketing videos for our clients for many  years.   See some of our recent work here. Let us know how we can help you with your video marketing.

Andrea Siy
S!Y Communications, Inc.

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Surround yourself with like-minded individuals…


One of the catch-phrases about being a member of a Chamber of Commerce is ‘surround yourself with like-minded individuals…’ Those simple words have many different meanings. Here’s what we mean...

1. These other business owners are also your customers.
It's easy to think that because the person you're talking to works at a bank or is a hair-stylist that he/she is only interested in talking about their business. However, that is not always the case. At the end of the day, you are talking to a person that knows a person that knows a person. A Chamber of Commerce is there to create an environment for you to promote your business and make you successful.

2. Your competition can also be your closest ally.
Unless you are a massive organization, you will (hopefully) run into the situation where you simply can’t take on any more business at the moment. You never want to turn business away, but what if you could send a client to a business that holds your same standards? Your customer is happy, the other business is happy and eventually the favor will be returned to you! A Chamber is a resource for you to meet these business owners and create relationships with them. They are one mouse click away on a member database or a hand-shake deal at a networking event.

3. Have an emergency? Who you gonna call? How about that person you met at last week’s networking event?
The dreaded burst water pipe, no heat, locked yourself out…uh oh. You can google somebody and who knows if they’ll show up or how reliable they will be. If you look them up in a Chamber database then you have something in common – you’re both Chamber members (and hopefully they won’t charge you the ‘after hours fee!’)

These are three of the major advantages of Chamber membership that often go unnoticed. Yes, the additional website listings, advertising, networking events are extremely important, but the relationships that you build with other business owners is…wait for it…priceless!

Chris Johnston
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Director, Membership Development

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How To Be More Interesting

HowToBeMoreInteresting_mar2017While this originally was meant to be a networking article, becoming more interesting is something that can benefit every area of your life, from striking up a random conversation with strangers to trying out for Dos Equis next Most Interesting Man in the World.

Interesting Is in the Eyes of the Audience

First, my interesting may not be your interesting. There’s no special pill to take or drink to consume to become more interesting because it’s not a universal application. But you can become more interesting to a particular audience in these ways:

Do Your Research
Establish who it is you want to become more interesting to and do your research. This could be an individual, like wanting to meet and talk to a particular head of industry as a chamber gala event or it could be a group of people you want to impress, like marketing to Millennials. Whether a person or group, use social media and the Internet to do research on their interests, concerns, things they’ve published or curated, and other personal information. But not too personal. If we’re talking about a person and not a demographic, stop just short of bringing up personal things you know about them and their family thanks to the fact that they don’t know how to use security features on Facebook.

If you’re trying to expand your views, reading is one of the best ways to do that. It provides insight into thoughts, cultures, and history with perspective. If you’re not a reader, try audio books or TED Talks. The point is to expand your mind and you don’t do that by listening only to yourself and your circle of like-minded friends.

Ask Questions
If you focus the conversation on the person you’re trying to impress and ask worthwhile questions of them, they will most likely think the conversation (and thus you) was very interesting, because you were talking about them.

Explore Difference
Make time to be with people whose views vary from your own. Put the debating aside and try to understand why they feel the way they do about the issues they support and the ones they don’t. Experience these topics removed from the emotion of how you feel about them. For instance, if you have an acquaintance who supports a different political candidate than you do, ask them probing questions about why they do. Don’t make this about proving them wrong. Suspend your opinion and only listen to theirs. Try to understand what drives it the way a psychologist may dissect someone’s motives.

Surround Yourself with Smarter People
Whether you’re hiring, dining, or playing racquetball, spend at least some of your time with people who are smarter than you or more well-traveled than you. Ask them about their experiences. When they speak, listen, even if it’s not directed your way.

Take Up a New Hobby or Learn Something New
Attack your bucket list with wild abandon or simply try an online class or a new hobby.
Experience foreign cultures and explore alone. Take time to listen to what’s going on around you. Talk to strangers. Everyone has a story. Learning theirs will make yours more interesting too.

Accept that Learning as an Adult Is Different
Many people refuse to read or take online classes because they associate learning with the drudgery of school and rote memorization and boring curriculum, but when you are master of your own ship and can steer the course (of your courses), learning becomes much more enjoyable. Give it a chance.
Note of caution: while you may enjoy it more, it may also take more repetition for the ideas to sink in.

Embrace a Cause
You’ll meet new people and do some good.

Look for Connections
As you absorb these new experiences and learning, don’t place them in boxes in your head as if you were organizing the garage. Instead, look for applications for your new knowledge and experiences and connections to others and ideas.

Be Generous
Be generous for no reason and fight the temptation to post it on social media. Let it be a secret you share with the person who benefited.

Don’t Ever Try to Be the Most Interesting Person in the Room
If you are, there’s nothing to gain.

A Final Word on Becoming More Interesting

There are numbers of books written about becoming a better conversationalist, and while some of that is technique, some of it is also derived from personal growth and a desire to never stagnate. The Internet has placed near limitless learning opportunities in front of us that are available all day every day. Using this knowledge availability as a stepping stone to expand our horizons and become life-long learners will not only make us more interesting but help our businesses remain relevant during times when “staying the course” isn’t advisable.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine,, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Can Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) help your business?

InnerCityCapitalConnections_2017I had the great fortune of recently attending an energetic and informative meeting hosted by the Enterprise Center in Salem featuring Massachusetts Sixth Congressional District Congressman Seth Moulton along with Former State Treasurer Steve Grossman, CEO of Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) based in Boston. It was the day after the Super Bowl so there was a an exciting vibe in the room for the Patriots win and the presentation from ICIC.

A program of ICIC is Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) which has an 11-year track record of helping companies grow and access capital. Businesses that enter the program face a variety of challenges, but exit the program with practical knowledge, a robust network and a plethora of capital connections they draw from. ICCC alumni have created over 11,000 jobs and secured more than $1.3 billion in capital. On average, alumni also experience a 56% increase in employment and a 23% increase in revenue CAGR. ICCC is looking for small businesses from the greater Newburyport area that are looking to grow and access capital. Here is a link to their 2016 Impact Report.

ICCC alumni have utilized ICCC as their secret weapon to growing their businesses and accessing capital. The program has accelerated the success of thriving companies such as Sundial Brands, Revolution Foods, TerraCycle, American Christmas and many more. This program is free to businesses that complete an application. If you are interested please contact me and I will be glad to put you in touch with ICCC staff so that they can answer your questions!

Ann Ormond
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

You Can’t Out-Train a Bad Diet

health1_2017If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of helping people reach their fitness goals it’s that no one plans to fail, but too many of us fail to plan. This is especially true for nutrition. No matter what your age or level of athletic activity, how you eat is as important as how you exercise.

Our understanding of nutrition has changed over the past decade. The groundbreaking work of Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, has helped us understand the implications of the type of calories we consume. And while there is a glut of diets, each with different formulas for success, there are certain basic facts to keep in mind about how to eat.

We need a daily supply of the energy nutrients carbohydrates, fats, proteins along with vitamins, minerals, and water. It is always best to get these nutrients by eating food that is fresh and as close to its natural form as possible. While it is simplistic to label foods as good or bad, there are better and worse times to consume certain nutrients.

Carbohydrates have become the dietary boogeyman that fats used to be a few years back. But they are still our body’s primary source of fuel. Eating whole grains and plenty of vegetables provides necessary energy without the health risks and weight problems associated with eating refined products, juices, and sweets.

health2_2017Choose whole grains rich in fiber (think dark instead of white) to slow down the absorption of sugar. Bright colored vegetables and fruits contain more nutrients than their lighter-colored counterparts. Making these choices, along with eating good fats and proteins, helps eliminate food cravings and binging.

Fat plays other roles in addition to providing energy. The fat found in plants and cold-water fish, as opposed to the fat in animal products, maintains cell membranes, helps the immune system function, and can lower cholesterol and heart disease risks. Be sure to include extra virgin olive oil, raw nuts, seeds, and avocados as a regular part of your diet.

Include some protein in every meal. Protein often comes with too much of the “bad” animal fat associated with heart disease and certain types of cancer. Good sources of lean protein include poultry, fish, soy, low-fat dairy, raw nuts, seeds, and beans with rice.

health3_2017Our body uses protein to build and repair all of its tissues, and proteins are involved in billions of chemical reactions that occur in our body every second. Muscle is made of protein and one of the reasons to build muscle is that it burns more calories while your body is at rest.

But even with this simple approach to nutrition, many people feel too busy or intimidated to prepare simple, healthy meals at home. Too many of us sacrifice health and wellness at the altar of convenience.

Eating healthy and tasty meals at home or away can be accomplished relatively simply with a little planning. Keeping the proper staples on hand is the key to the easy preparation of healthy and delicious meals. Try these simple tips for shopping and food preparation:

  • Spend the majority of your shopping time and grocery budget on the perimeters of the store. Here you can find fresh, whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry, lean meat, and yogurt.
  • Keep an adequate supply of the following: onion, garlic, shallots, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, and barley), herbs and spices, natural low-sodium chicken broth, Dijon mustard, canned beans, raw nuts, and seeds.
  • Read labels to check sodium content and choose low-sodium options. If you don’t recognize an ingredient on a label, choose another item.
  • Prepare some base dishes from which you can build delicious meals by cooking whole grains and oven-roasted vegetables in advance. Grains can be reheated and placed atop greens or mixed with vegetables as a base rich in nutrients.
  • Add lean protein by using previously cooked chicken or turkey breast, canned tuna or salmon, tofu, hard-boiled eggs, or lightly toasted raw nuts and seeds.
  • Keep a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil in your refrigerator and pour on a tablespoon to add flavor as well as good fat.
  • Use raw nuts and seeds, fruit, cheese, and cultured yogurt as snacks or dessert.
health4_2017Remember, achieving fitness is all about stimulus and response. What you put into your body after working out is as important as how you train. For the next installment I will describe our approach to personal training.

Bruce Cohn

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Friday, January 27, 2017

Why do so many companies employ email marketing?

emailmarketing-graphic_2017Email marketing is inexpensive.

It is flexible, offering infinite variation.

It provides excellent analytics.

It has a proven track record to continuously reach audiences of any size and interest.

In the business world, results are arguably all that matters. With this in mind, the main reason that most businesses invest in email marketing is the fantastic return on investment. For every $1 spent on email marketing, $44.25 is the average return on investment. A number of sources have suggested that this is better than any other platform. So with that said, here’s some helpful information to keep in mind in your email marketing strategy.

OK – I want to give it a go but how do I start? First you need to make sure you have a way for people to easily join your list.

Here are some ways to grow your contact list:

  1. Make it easy for people to sign up: Make your email sign-up form available on all of your social channels. You can include a sign up on Facebook and other social media pages, allow people to “text to join”, create a sign up tool on your websites and more.
  2. Give your emails visibility: Share your newsletters and announcements on social media and on your website to extend your reach and attract new readers.
  3. Offer an incentive: Create a special offer, discount or host a raffle or sweepstakes that encourages fans and followers to join your email list.

Now, what should you say? Keep your content useful to your readers, and you will keep them engaged in your emails:

  1. Treat Your Readers Like VIP’s– Your subscribers should be excited to receive your emails.  Alert your subscribers first to new product or sales.
  2. Keep the Content Useful– People will not open an email that doesn’t provide them with benefits.  Make sure the content you give subscribers is new and interesting.  The goal of your email should be to keep your customers happy and loyal.
  3. Show Your Personality–  Your voice, tone and sense of humor are part of the reason why your reason your customers signed up with you in the first place.  Use your personality to increase opens and drive traffic to your site.
  4. Keep Your Content Simple and Short– Write for ‘scannability’.  Mobile users prefer short emails (which will increase the click-through rate).  Emphasize key offers and messages with emphasis (bold).  Use one idea per paragraph.  Don’t write in full sentences when a phrase can communicate the idea just as well.
  5. Use the right tone of voice– Using words like “you” and “your” make the reader feel like the message was directed at them.  Try to excite the reader’s emotions.
  6. Make sure you are mobile! A recent study showed 79% of responders have their smartphones with them 22 hours per day, and today over 81% of emails are opened up on mobile devices.
At S!Y Communications we handle email marketing campaigns for a number of different clients from consumer, to business-to-business. Need help crafting your email marketing strategy and its implementation? Contact us for a review of your goals and how we can help you reach them.

Andrea Siy
S!Y Communications, Inc.

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Take Advantage of Social Media

socialmedia-graphic_2017When reaching out to your markets, customers, potential or existing employees, your community, even the financial institutions, social media can give you direct contact with the people who make a difference to your business.   Usage of social media continues to grow and grow each year.   Not surprisingly over 90% of all 18-29 year olds are on social media daily but did you know that 77% of the age group 30-49 uses social media, as do 51% of 50-64 year olds*.   Even more than a third of 65 year olds and up are now on social media as well … and all these numbers keep growing year after year. *Pew Research

There are literally hundreds of social media outlets available today. It’s one of the most powerful marketing tools of the modern age, giving your company a human voice. But which ones you choose to employ vary by industry. For the manufacturing and industrial industry the four that have the most positive influence on business activity are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.   But, if you are in the retail industry for instance, you’ll want to utilize Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat.

What a sound Social Media strategy can do for you:
  • Build your personality and voice
  • Engage with your audience
  • Generate more business exposure and increase your traffic
  • Add a new dimension to your business (e.g. visual)
  • Engage customers in your products/services and allow them to be brand evangelists by sharing your content
To be competitive and contemporary with social media, you need a competent content manager with a clear strategy for your content. You can find these specialists within your Marketing Agency, among free-lancers, or by developing your own internal social media capability.

When you connect your business to social media, you want to make the best first impression that you can. Make it simple to contact you. Include easy to find links to your website, email address, phone number and blog if you have one.   Use a strong cover photo or graphic to support your message. Tailor your URL (internet address) to reflect your business name. This will help people to find you and improve your Search Engine Optimization (direct internet contacts). Add “like” and “follow” buttons to your website and other marketing materials so readers can connect easily with your social media channels and follow your progress.

Social Media is interactive. It changes every day. Every minute.   When you commit to a social media strategy, you also have to commit to keeping your content fresh and engaging for your audience. Learn about your social media followers by looking at the many analytic features that are available - such as Facebook Insights to understand who is liking you, when they are online with your pages, etc. Identify text, photos and videos that put your best foot forward with the people you are reaching, and include those materials in your social media messages.

There are several tools available to measure your performance on social media. is a free, versatile tool that lets you know every time your brand or keywords appear on online forums, new sites and blogs.  Tools like provides weekly social media analytics reports and also offers publishing and engagement features.

If you have not yet brought your company into the world of social media, there is no time like the present to get started. 

Andrea Siy
S!Y Communications, Inc.

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to Go About Securing Your Child's Financial Future

securechildsfuture_2017January 17, 2017

The last thing parents of young children want to think about is their children growing up and going away to college, but responsible parents know they need to do life planning to secure their children’s futures. There are several contingencies you’ll want to plan for when it comes to your children’s future, and making the right financial decisions for your family is not always easy. Our suggestions should set you on the path toward making your child’s future financially stable.

1. Be a Good Role Model

The first step you can do to secure your child’s financial future is to be a good role model. This means paying down your debts, saving money, and making sound financial investments. While you don’t necessarily have to share your income and investment information with your children, you should talk about money and why you have a budget and how you work to make money to pay bills instead of buying everything that you want.

Talk to your kids early on about earning and saving money and get them involved by helping them set up a small business like a lemonade stand, setting up scenarios and engaging in play that involves pretend money and shopping at home, and giving them an allowance or paying them to complete chores. Explain that earning and saving money is key to a comfortable way of life and teach them how to have a healthy relationship with money. Of course, piggy banks and checking accounts are good tools to use with kids to save their money as they grow older.

2. Use Time to Your Advantage

Don’t put off working to secure your child’s financial future until later in life. The sooner you start and get time on your side, the more money your child’s savings accounts and college funds will gain. College tuition costs also jump from year to year, so the more you put aside earlier, the better the chances that your savings and investments will cover those rising costs.

That isn’t to say that you should make hasty investment decisions. You should consider all your savings and investment options and choose those that you are most comfortable with making. Be sure that you choose an investment option that allows you to be more aggressive when your children are young and more conservative as they reach the end of their high school career. Working with a financial advisor who can determine your investment plan and your comfort levels with investing is a good place to start if you are not sure how to go about choosing college funds and savings and investment accounts for your children. They also know how to diversify funds and choose those that are more likely to keep up with inflation and increasing tuition costs.

3. Make Sure Your Will and Legal Documents are Up to Date

Another task that parents usually put off is making sure their will and legal documents are up to date. Well-written wills provide financial protection for your children and ensure their physical well-being in the event of your death. Be sure to establish a trust so that your assets are handled properly until the children become of age to handle the assets themselves. Name guardians for your children and be sure to name an executor of your will to ensure all of your final wishes are carried out as you wanted and that your children’s best interests remain protected.

It’s also important to ensure that you have other legal documents in place to handle the transfer of your property. One such document is a Quitclaim Deed. These deeds are special forms of deeds used to transfer real estate in low-risk situations. They are a smart option for parents who want to gift real estate to their children.

4. Purchase Life Insurance Policies

Many parents also often put off purchasing life insurance policies because they think they are too expensive. Young parents often do a combination of term life policies and permanent policies in order to keep initial costs down but still ensure enough cash for their families to cover end-of-life expenses and mortgage payments and other debt payments. It’s better to work with an agent and determine your budget and the type of insurance policies that you can afford for your financial goals.

The sooner you begin to secure your child’s financial future, the better. Take steps to be a good financial role model, act now, get your will and legal documents in order, and purchase life insurance to give your children a stable financial foundation now and in the future.


Image via Pixabay by alphalight1

Jackie Waters

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Small Business Tax Tips: How to Manage the Tax Filing Process

smallbusinesstaxtips_2017January 10, 2017

Small business owners often find themselves with headaches and indigestion at tax time. Nobody likes to see their money go to the IRS, but small business owners can make the process of filing taxes a little easier on themselves if they handle their taxes properly all year long. We share a few tips for small business owners looking to make the tax filing process a bit more manageable for this coming tax season.

Be consistent with your records

Small business owners cannot afford to be lax in their bookkeeping or record keeping, especially when it comes to tax documents. One of the best ways to save money on your taxes is to take legitimate deductions, but you may find yourself in a bind if you don’t have records to support your expenses and deductions.

You should have a system in place for keeping your records and tracking your income and expenses, and you must be consistent in your approach to it all year long. Waiting until tax season to get your records in order will cause undue stress and increase your risk of making a mistake or failing to meet a tax filing deadline.

File systems are one way to gather together and store your receipts, invoices, and other expense records. You should have separate files for mileage, meal costs, capital expenditures, office supplies, etc., all within your expense file. You also should have a consistent system for gathering these records in the first place, so if you have employees, you should set an expectation that they will log their mileage using a log book or app and then have a consistent process for them to follow to turn in their expenses to you.

Tracking your income and expenses becomes much easier when you have a computer program to help you handle these records properly. It is also a good idea to get W-2 software and/or 1099 software to help you handle such forms. These forms are among the most commonly used for small business owners, and having a program that enables you to input data and print and email reports can save you a great deal of time when tax season arrives.

Know how to lower your tax bill

Tax evasion is certainly not something any small business owner should consider pursuing. But, as we mentioned, taking legal deductions certainly is something that small business owners need to do to keep more money in their accounts and their wallets. One of the first deductions small business owners should consider taking is for a home office. It is nearly impossible to find a small business owner who does not have a home office, but it is easy to find several who do not take advantage of this money-saving tax method.

Home office deductions are not a red flag to the IRS as some people believe. The key is to use the home office for the sole purpose of doing business so that the IRS recognizes it as a legitimate home office space.

With a few simple measurements and calculations, you can use a portion of your home-related expenses such as mortgage payments, insurance bills, electricity bills, and more for your home office deduction. There is also a simpler home office deduction that requires fewer calculations that some people opt to use. It’s best to calculate both methods and then see which will save you more money in the long run.

Home offices are not the only deductions small business owners can pursue to lower their tax bills. All office supplies count as expenses, so hang on to your receipts for everything from printer ink to paper clips in order to offset taxable business income. Office furniture also counts as an expense, and small business owners have the option of deducting the total cost in the year of purchase or deducting a portion of the expense over seven years as depreciation.

With a little forethought for file organization, reporting processes, and legal deductions, small business owners can make the tax filing process a little smoother and save a little more money.

Julie Morris

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, December 21, 2016


blog-contentideas_2016December 21, 2016

Valuable content is one of the most important components of your business marketing strategy. Without it, it’s very difficult to build an audience and stand out from the competition. But constantly feeding the content machine can be draining and exhausting. Here are 50 topics (and ideas) to help your business provide valuable information for your audience.

  1. Tell the story of your biggest challenge (personal or professional)
  2. Answer a customer service question on your blog
  3. Serve up buying tips for your product or service (such as How to Hire a Good CPA)
  4. Use a holiday to showcase someone important to you, on your staff, or in the community (think Veterans’ Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, etc.)
  5. Write a customer spotlight about who they are and how you helped them (bonus points if they’ll write it as a guest blog)
  6. Highlight a team member’s story
  7. Talk about a charity you support and why
  8. Give an alternative use for one of your products
  9. List negative things that happen when you don’t use your service or product
  10. Share a video or images of your office and team
  11. Interview a team member about a big topic in your industry or your customers’ industry
  12. “Why we love _________ and you should too”
  13. “The worst advice I’ve ever been given”
  14.  “The best advice I never took”
  15. “10 things our competitors aren’t doing”
  16. “5 Misconceptions about our industry”
  17. “3 Misconceptions about our product or service”
  18. “5 Things I learned about this business from watching <insert your favorite show>”
  19. “Industry predictions for ______ years from now”
  20. Current trends
  21. “Best of the industry” (good review post in December)
  22. “5 things we wish people knew about our industry/product/service”
  23. “5 Tools you need to be using”
  24. “Why you shouldn’t be afraid to _____________”
  25. “Creative ways to get more <insert something your customers need>”
  26. “3 things that will change your mind about <insert the industry>”
  27. “Best _______ out there” (such as customer blog posts, industry information blogs, or something completely off topic but enjoyable like cat videos)
  28. “Business people who’ve inspired me”
  29. “My favorite business blogs”
  30. “Books I’ve read this year” (or those that had a profound effect on you)
  31. “Our hottest blog posts of this year” (great December topic or do one mid-way through)
  32. “Best free apps for productivity”
  33. “Who to follow” (customers, staffers, industry experts on various platforms. You could do a blog post for each of the major platforms.)
  34. Status of legislation affecting your industry
  35. “Advice for people who want to go into this business” (yours or one similar)
  36. “I did ______ for 30 days and this is what I learned” (Take a personal challenge and write about it)
  37. Share business resolutions
  38. Ask vendors or affiliates you work with for content/guest post
  39. Have a child interview you, asking his/her own questions
  40. Create a contest around your business (Betty Crocker holds recipe contests using their products, for instance. Post the top submissions. Bonus points if it involves cute kids. Parents will post everywhere and get their friends and family to like the posts.)
  41. Visit an image site like Flickr and let a picture inspire your next post
  42. “What my hobby taught me about business”
  43. Take an old blog post and add more information and update the old stats
  44. Write a step-by-step guide on something your audience needs to know
  45. Compare your product/service with that of your competitor (use info from their website)
  46. “Why buy from us”
  47. Create a list people will want to get involved in (this often works better on Facebook) such as a travel bucket list or favorite sports team
  48. “20 questions to ask to know you’re getting your moneys’ worth”
  49. Give your opinion on something you’ve read
  50. Recap a webinar, training, book, or other valuable resource you have attended or used. People appreciate the abbreviated knowledge.
Remember, the best way to use these blog topics is to customize them for the needs of your audience. Inspiration for blogs can be found everywhere and you needn’t be limited by words. Not feeling like writing today? Try a video blog post instead. See how it does against your written content. Periodically, take note of what your audience responds to and do more of it. These are just suggestions. You take it from here.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine,, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Make the connection…

ChamberLogo-LargeWebNovember 2, 2016

Not a day goes by that somebody doesn’t ask me "what does the Chamber do?"

Valid question.

The obvious benefits are networking events, online exposure and being a part of a community, but there is a lot more than that.

What I’m most proud about is the ability for a Chamber to connect complimentary businesses, better yet – competing businesses.

Say what?

You read that right. Take for instance the case about Bucciarelli’s Butcher Shop and Carry Out Cafe. Both businesses rely heavily on catering deals, but sometimes it’s just not feasible. A quick phone call to another reliable Chamber member and a customer is immediately satisfied. Camaraderie goes a long way. Customers really enjoy watching businesses work together to get the job done.

Or the case of LMV Productions and Anchor Hitch Media both are video production companies that are wicked awesome. LMV focuses on wedding and special events and Anchor Hitch does quite a bit of business filming. Both companies are fully capable of doing events and business filming, but they never hesitate to recommend each other to clients. One reliable business recommending another is priceless.

That is the unwritten benefit of being a member of the Chamber. You should never hesitate to contact us and ask for a connection. Oh, and when you reach out to a business, mention that you are a member of the Chamber. People always love hearing about a common bond!

Chris Johnston
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Director, Membership Development

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Combat Stress to Maintain An Ideal Work-Life Balance

combatstress_oct2016October 19, 2016

Stress, unfortunately, is a sensation that occurs in everyone. In a world of uncertainty and constant change, stress is our body’s way of alerting us that something is causing us concern and affecting our thoughts and feelings. As bad as it is, it is necessary and inevitable. When we remain under constant distress, our body and mind takes a major hit. But if it is managed correctly, it can become an effective tool. In small doses, stress can help you perform under pressure, and is a great source of motivation.

When it comes to your work-life balance, reducing stress is a major player that can greatly improve or destroy your handle on day-to-day activities. Some of the benefits include a greater focus and concentration, higher levels of job satisfaction, and more opportunities to participate in family and social circles and pursue personal goals and hobbies. Check out some of these tips on stress management and maintaining a good work-life balance.

Identifying Sources of Stress

Internal or external forces can cause stress. External causes are things like major life changes, work, being too busy, or financial problems, while internal causes can mean anything from negative self-talk to perfectionism. Here are some signs that one of these stressors has been triggered:

  • Mental: Trouble thinking clearly, memory problems, can’t concentrate, poor judgment, racing thoughts
  • Emotional: Moodiness, short fuse, overly sensitive, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, depression
  • Physical: tight muscles, aches and pains, headaches, trembling, sweating, loss of appetite, lack of sleep
  • Behavioral: isolating yourself from others, increased and/or inappropriate drug and alcohol use, nervous habits
Once you have picked up on signs and symptoms, and identified the cause, it becomes easier to manage.

Know Your Body
  • Understand and identify your triggers
  • Intercept your early warning signs and symptoms and act
  • Practice relaxation techniques or meditation
  • Eat healthy and balanced
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day (consider adding equipment to your home)
  • Get around 8 hours of sleep every night

Change Your Frame of Mind
  • Worry less about the things outside of your control, and set aside time to deal with the things you can control
  • Set smaller goals that are manageable rather than overwhelming
  • Consciously choose a positive attitude
  • Visualize yourself in a calm and peaceful place, and think about yourself and your achievements in a positive light
  • Don’t compare your personal success to the success of others
  • Have a sense of humor

Start Walking the Walk
  • Plan ahead to give yourself enough time to complete your to-do list
  • Keep a list and prioritize duties
  • Be open and honest with people about how you feel; don’t harbor your feelings
  • Give yourself time for relaxation and your interests
  • Reward yourself when you reach your goal
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol (that includes caffeine you coffee lovers)

Work-Life Balance
  • Compartmentalize: Set a boundary line between work life and personal life. When you leave work, your tasks, office gossip, and worries stay at work
  • Find ways to make work more enjoyable: invest in your coworkers, spruce up your cubicle, or bring a little snack every now and then
  • Build up your support team: Everyone needs help, so accept it when it’s offered. It’s okay to delegate it too
  • Do your body a favor: Exercise regularly, eat healthy, and sleep!
  • Fake it ‘til you make it: train yourself to think in a positive mind frame

Julie Morris

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Who’s Counting All the American Jobs Walmart’s Committed to Creating?

walmart_sep2016September 28, 2016

As an ad guy, I like the true-grit TV ads. They’re well-produced and inspiring. But after a couple views on Monday Night Football and Dora the Explorer, I couldn’t help but notice that the steel being turned in the new Walmart “Creating American Jobs” campaign resembles more of a fork truck’s fork being made than the plastic dinnerware or garden rake I might pick up at Walmart.

So I became curious: how will we know if Walmart succeeds in their job creation quest? And who’s substantiating their public pledge to step up purchases of U.S.-made goods by $250 billion over 10 years into 2023? Detractors are quick to remind us, that Walmart, a $478 billion firm driven to offer customers rock-bottom prices, has been widely recognized as being instrumental in pushing factory jobs from the U.S. to China (and other low-wage countries) for years. Not to mention leading an “invest the register receipts now, pay for it later” supply chain financial model that has turned the product in manufacturing today into an unstable loss leader for many publicly traded and private companies.

Walmart announced its job creation pledge in January 2013, as rising factory wages in China were helping make U.S production of some goods more attractive, and with manufacturing employment here rising for the first time since the late '90s. Since 2010, the national economy has added nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs. But that's a fraction of the 5.7 million lost from 2000 to 2010 — 1 out of every 3 manufacturing jobs the country had at the start of the decade. (Source: Milwaukee-Wisconsin Sentinel)

The Boston Consulting Group says that $250 billion in added spending over 10 years could create 1 million jobs. Indeed, Walmart says the initiative is expected to create 1 million new U.S. jobs with 250,000 in direct manufacturing and 750,000 in support and services. But how exactly, I mumbled aloud recently while sampling my daughter’s latest TV snack idea (peanut butter and Pirate Booty) will we know?

Of course, I hope, for her especially, that Walmart is sincere and successful in its efforts to fulfill the pledge. But the fact that they are releasing no numbers leads even the most trusting to be doubtful.

It Just Doesn’t Add Up.

All Walmart will say is that they are “on target.” Their annual reports include no such breakdown. But an Alliance for American Manufacturing press release (June 2016) reports that 80 percent of Walmart’s suppliers are still located in China. The Journal of Commerce reports that for several years (2012-2015), Walmart has been the single largest U.S. importer of consumer goods, surpassing the trade volume of entire countries. They have increased their foreign shipping containers by 10% since 1999.

2012: Walmart ranked No.1 at 720,000 TEUs
2013: Walmart ranked No. 1 at 731,500 TEUs
2014: Walmart ranked No. 1 at 775,400 TEUs
2015: Walmart ranked No. 1 at 795,900 TEUs

In America, estimates say that Chinese suppliers make up 70-80 percent of Walmart’s merchandise, leaving less than 20 percent for American-made products. (Source: Walmart China, Frontline, The Atlantic)

You Can’t Just Say, “Made in USA.”

There is another relevant issue, with regard to Walmart’s Made in America pledge, that being their past misuse of the “Made in USA” label. Fortune reports that in October 2015, Walmart was forced to remove “Made in the USA” logos from its e-commerce site after an inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission into its labeling. The retailer avoided FTC action by “voluntarily” cooperating.

But ad watchdog group Truth in Advertising reported in June 2016 that Walmart’s website is still “replete with false and deceptive U.S.- origin claims.” The group compiled over 100 of these cases from June 2016. They reported baseball caps and safety vests that were labeled “Made in the U.S.A.,” yet were in fact produced in China. In some cases, products had parts made outside of the U.S., but were likewise labeled “Made in the U.S.A.”

The “Made in USA” mark is a country of origin label indicating the product is “all or virtually all” made in the United States. The label is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). I personally think it’s time for us all to hold it up with an increasing amount of reverence and respect if we expect change from Walmart, or anyone else for that matter.

A Positive Note: The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund

Launched in 2014, the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing with a specific goal of advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S. Over the next five years, the fund will provide a total of $10 million in grants.

Walmart, the Walmart Foundation, and the United States Conference of Mayors recently released a third round of Requests for Proposals (RFP) for 501 (c) (3) organizations and public universities that are instrumentalities of a state government interested in receiving support for applied research from the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund. For this cycle, the fund prioritized textile manufacturing activities with an emphasis on sustainability.

In 2015, five leading research and academic institutions were awarded a total of $2.84 million in grants by the fund for work focused on innovations in textile manufacturing. U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant winners include:

  • Clemson University for energy and effluent reduction through innovative dyeing of polyester fabrics
  • Oregon State University for environmentally conscious dyeing of fabrics using continuous digital printing and drying of biopigment inks
  • University of Texas at Austin for on-loom fabric defect inspection using contact image sensors
  • North Carolina State University for developing a non-stop tying-in process/approach to improve weaving efficiency
  • Cornell University for recycling post-consumer textile waste and a raw material substitute for new textiles

The 2014 Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant winners were:

  • Georgia Tech Research Corporation for innovation of thread-count-based fabric motion control, a critical enabling technology for the automated production of sewn goods.
  • Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) to advance and accelerate the industrial implementation of metal 3-D printing for the manufacturing of plastic injection tooling as an alternative to current metal-shaping practices.
  • North Carolina State University College of Textiles to address challenges to manufacturing of furniture cushions in the U.S. by implementing new technologies in both fabric printing and cut-and-sew automation.
  • Oregon State University to develop two novel alternative mold fabricating approaches, and evaluate for functionality, precision and cost reduction potential.
  • Texas Tech University to support collaborative research on cotton breeding and biotechnology, cotton production, and various aspects of textile manufacturing, dyeing efficiency and specialty finishes.
  • University of Texas at Arlington to develop a novel manufacturing system that will autonomously prepare small motor sub-systems and assemble the motor components.
  • University of Georgia Research Foundation to develop an innovative approach to fabric dyeing that will greatly reduce, and perhaps eliminate, the need for water in dyeing cotton and cotton/polyester fabrics and yarns.

americanjobs_sep2016We must credit Walmart for any effort to promote and develop domestic manufacturing and advance the production or assembly of products in the U.S. Will they succeed in their pledge to step up purchases of U.S.-made goods by $250 billion over 10 years? Only time will tell. With no numbers forthcoming from the retail giant there’s no way of knowing.

At least we’ve made some inroads with regard to factors that will determine their success or failure. We plan to keep tabs on Walmart and promise to let you know of any new information we may find. We’ll revisit the topic in a few months. Stay tuned for our next installment, which will celebrate National Manufacturing Day and Massachusetts Manufacturing Month by discussing how to bring back American jobs and pump up American manufacturing with national and industry-led efforts that connect to relevant education programs.

David Strand
Strand Marketing

The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
The Chamber Blog - Newburyport NOW!
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What it means to be a top 10 Chamber

ChamberLogo-LargeWebSeptember 28, 2016

David Letterman’s Top 10 is probably the most well-known ‘Top 10 List,’ but every year The Boston Business Journal puts out a list to which the chamber of commerce world pays close attention.

That list is the top-25 chamber of commerce offices in the State of Massachusetts. Once again, we are proud to come in at #10! 

What does this mean?

Great question. 

The editors make the list based on the number of members. Our membership of 750 businesses and organizations is pretty impressive when you look at the chambers ahead of us (Worcester Chamber of Commerce is number one and Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is number two).  It also means that our business community is alive and strong!

We greatly appreciate the continued support of YOU, our members.  As we continue to focus on making the Greater Newburyport area a great place to do business, please don’t hesitate to make suggestions on how we can improve. 

Thank you again!

The Chamber Staff
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Newburyport Summer – A tribute to the heartbeat of Newburyport!

newburyportnight_2016August 30, 2016

“Every day you live here you’re going to feel like you’re on vacation.”

Those are the words that our realtor said to us the day we bought our house in Newburyport.  Many years later, those words still ring true.

As part of our ongoing summer blog, we’ve written about alternative lunchtime locales, exploring the waters, the cultural district, the history, The Tannery, craft beverage producers, volunteer opportunities, and talented photographers. If there were an equation for what a perfect town looks like, the accumulation of all those factors would score pretty high!

So what’s left?  What else can we possibly blog about? There is quite a bit, but here’s one aspect we’ve not yet discussed: the people who have poured their heart and souls into local businesses and organizations!

The people are what make this community special. Many business owners in town have quit their cushy corporate job to open a business and support a community they love. On the other hand, many locals have avoided Amazon and big box stores to support local businesses. It’s that symbiotic relationship that makes us proud to do our jobs. Nothing makes us happier than visiting local businesses owners and hearing about their successes. 

Thank you business owners and thank you local businesses supporters.  Without you, Newburyport would be much different!

Chris Johnston, Director of Membership Development
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer in Newburyport Blog: History is Alive and Well in Newburyport!

clipperheritagetrail_aug2016August 3, 2016

One of the coolest parts of Newburyport is its history. 

No world-changing events occurred in our streets, but some really cool ‘Did you know?’ things did. Local Historian, Ghlee Woodworth, followed in her father’s footsteps and has created the go-to guide for Newburyport history buffs. 

Boston’s North End may have the Freedom Trail, but Newburyport has the Clipper Heritage Trail. Ghlee’s mission was (and continues to be) to bring local history to life. She researched and created a trail complete with a website, mobile website, guided maps (available at City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce office) and historical markers. These markers are engraved granite blocks with ‘Clipper Heritage Trail’ and can be found throughout town. A quick glance at your map will explain what historical occurrence happened there. 

The maps are separated by sections of town. You can view the complete list of tours by visiting the ‘Tours’ page on the website. 

The Chamber of Commerce greatly appreciates our history and the work Ghlee is doing to keep history alive. We also appreciate the local businesses and organizations that are helping to create the future of Newburyport!    

Chris Johnston, Director of Membership Development
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer in Newburyport: Get in Touch with Your Cultural Side!

CulturalDistrict_July2016July 12, 2016

In 2015, Newburyport was named a ‘Cultural District’ by the state – one of only 32 in the state!  

According to the Mass Cultural Council, “These cultural districts help local arts, humanities, and science organizations improve the quality and range of their public programs so that more local families can benefit from them. They enhance the experience for visitors and thus attract more tourist dollars and tax revenue. And they attract artists, cultural organizations, and entrepreneurs of all kinds - enhancing property values and making communities more attractive.”

Now that is something to celebrate! Stop by our office and pick up a cultural district map and explore the many cultural sights and sounds in our community. You can read more by visiting our website

Chris Johnston, Director of Membership Development
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Smart Growth, the MBTA, and the Developer: A Blueprint for Overarching Success in Massachusetts Housing Development

BlueprintForSuccess_July2016July 7, 2016
Reposted from Strand Marketing

During his nearly 45 years in the real estate business, Lou Minicucci, the founder and president of MINCO Corp., a commercial real estate company based in North Andover, Mass., has learned what it takes to make a project come to fruition.

As MINCO recently gained unanimous approval of the Newburyport Planning Board to build the city’s first Smart Growth development – One Boston Way – Minicucci says success is a matter of collaboration:

“You have to work together to find what makes economic sense at the same time as you address the vision that the city has in mind. That is what we did. We jointly designed this project.”

Here is a blueprint for what it took to establish a Smart Growth District in Newburyport and secure support for the associated One Boston Way:

I. Laying the groundwork

In the spring of 2013, MINCO submits a bid to purchase 11 vacant acres of land by the MBTA commuter rail station near the Route 1 traffic circle, an area that for years has been eyed as an ideal candidate for establishing Newburyport’s first Smart Growth District in accordance with Chapter 40R of Massachusetts General Laws.

With its proximity to public transit, the Clipper City Rail Trail, and the Newburyport Business and Industry Park, the underutilized space off Parker Street features the key components needed to create a dense, walkable, vibrant, mixed-use Smart Growth neighborhood.

The bid is submitted with the expectation that the city will follow through on the Smart Growth objectives spelled out in the 2001 Master Plan and 2013 Newburyport Housing Needs Assessment (the 2014 Master Plan reiterates the city’s commitment to Smart Growth).

As MINCO is designated the successful bidder, the company releases tentative plans for a residential development with affordable units. In November, MINCO and MBTA sign the purchase and sale agreement. The agreement includes a provision that each additional unit over 60 adds $23,000 to the price tag.

II. Building consensus

Throughout 2014, MINCO officials meet with city representatives, including Mayor Donna Holaday and Planning Director Andy Port, to informally discuss MINCO’s Smart Growth development, named One Boston Way. Much of the discussions center on aligning the financial viability of the project with the city’s vision in preparation for the launch of the Smart Growth initiative. The city proposes a few significant changes:

  • Increasing the percentage of affordable units to 25 from 20. This is important since it would, according to the Smart Growth statute, allow the city to count all rental units, even those priced at market rate, toward its affordable housing stock. In 2014, that amounted to 7.6 percent.
  • The addition of the One Boston Way apartments would greatly boost the city’s effort to reach the state mandated 10 percent. Until the state mandate is met, there is a possibility the city  could be subjected to a development according to Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing law, which gives the city much less control over the development.
  • Devoting the first floor to commercial space.
  • Raising the floor-to-floor ceiling height of the first floor to 12 feet. The city also wants 9-feet ceiling heights for upper floor living spaces.

Compromise 1: In order to sustain the costs of the city’s proposals in addition to other concessions such as installing 1,000 linear feet of sidewalk, widening the Parker Street sidewalk to 10 feet, providing Juliet balconies, and making the windows extra-large for lighting and ventilation, MINCO says more units need to be built. A month later MINCO presents city representatives with a revised rendering that includes five floors.

Compromise 2: Instead of first-floor commercial space, MINCO proposes live-work units and shared office space. First-floor commercial space would, according to MINCO, be uneconomic since the rental rate needed to sustain the building exceeds the current market rates for the location. The live-work units as well as shared office space, on the other hand, would be modeled after the concepts of the Cambridge Innovation Center and WeWork. Each live-work unit would have its own exterior entry and could easily be converted into full commercial space.

In December, 2014, city officials finally launch an initiative to create a Smart Growth District around the Route 1 traffic circle.

III. Reaching out to the community

Although details of One Boston Way have been well documented by the local media since the designation of the purchaser by the MBTA, MINCO decides to try a modern approach to spread the word on the project.

In the spring of 2015, the company publishes a series of informative blog posts on its website. The posts are also shared on social media and feature details on the scope of the project, architectural renderings, an interview with the architects, answers to commonly asked questions, and a look at the experience of other communities that have leveraged Chapter 40R. Readers learn, for example, MINCO’s proposed Smart Growth development will include approximately 80 apartments and 3,500 square feet of shared office space and live-work units as well as the preservation of 9 acres of open space.

Companies typically use blogs to attract customers, build brand awareness, and position themselves as industry leaders. Using a blog and social media to communicate with the public – without the intention of converting them to customers – is a new take on that trend.

In a press release, Minicucci explains the purpose:

“Open lines of communication with the community are important to us. We want to be transparent and provide as much information as we can about this exciting initiative to help the public understand both 40R and our intentions. The blog should be seen as a complete information resource.”

As part of the outreach effort, Minicucci also writes an opinion piece that is published in the Newburyport Daily News. In the op-ed, he writes, “providing housing for people from all walks of life has been the driving force of my career” and argues “more rental units will help the city stay true to its working-class roots while also catering to single professionals, young couples, and empty nesters who may want to downsize.”  The op-ed contains details on the One Boston Way proposal and how Newburyport stands to benefit from the establishment of a Smart Growth District.

IV. Gaining Smart Growth District Approval

Public hearings on the city’s first Smart Growth District kick off in March of 2015 with a joint public hearing and informational meeting in the City Hall auditorium. The well-attended meeting brings together city and state officials for presentations on the benefits of Smart Growth and an overview of the local district. The meeting features a conceptual rendering of One Boston Way.

An additional three public hearings take place before the Planning Board in August of 2015 which recommends the approval of the 40R Smart Growth ordinance to the City Council. A month later, the City Council approves the creation of a Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District. The approval means the city qualifies for zoning incentive payments of up to $600,000 in addition to a density bonus of $3,000 per unit constructed in the district, pending 40R approval by the state (the state officially approves the Smart Growth District in January, 2016). The payments come with no strings attached, enabling the municipality to allocate the money as it sees fit.

As a side note, the 40R district receives an additional boost when the city in 2015 receives a $2,000,000 MassWorks award that municipal leaders say will primarily be used for upgrades to the Graf Road lift station that serves the Smart Growth District as well as other parts of the city. The state notes, “the infrastructure improvements will support a $16.5 million 80 unit mixed-use development located next to the MBTA commuter rail station and enable the future construction of 440 units in the 40R District.”

With the Smart Growth District in place, MINCO is able to move forward with One Boston Way, filing an application with the Planning Board in December.

The details of the proposal have – as explained above – been carefully ironed out in collaboration with city officials and include a single multi-family, five-story, wood-framed building on the corner of Parker Street and Boston Way, featuring a total of 84 units. Twenty-five percent, or 21 units, will be designated affordable (In Newburyport, it means they will be reserved for families or individuals who make less than 80 percent of $98,100, the Fiscal Year 2016 area-wide median income. However – and this is important – all 84 units – even those priced at market rate – would by nature of being rentals count toward Newburyport’s stock of affordable housing which currently amounts to 7.6 percent. In raising the percentage of affordable housing to 8.5 percent from 7.6 percent, Newburyport gets closer to the state’s goal of 10 percent. Municipalities that meet the 10 percent threshold automatically gain more control over further additions of affordable housing developments in their community. The first floor also includes 2,500 square feet of innovative common areas, comprised of shared office space and other resident amenities.

V. Listening to the public

Between March and May, 2016, six public hearings address One Boston Way. By the time the final Planning Board decision nears, MINCO has submitted five design iterations, added rain gardens for drainage retention and illumination at the Rail Trail entry point, completed a shadow study to ensure the building will not block the light of abutters, ensured no more than 12 inches of concrete will be showing above grade, and reexamined entry and pedestrian travel patterns. The changes are in addition to the widening of sidewalks and other concessions discussed earlier.

In a letter to the Planning Board, Minicucci re-affirms MINCO’s commitment to the project and the community:

“We’ve happily addressed every reasonable request made by the Planning Board. And this project carefully meets every guideline established by the Smart Growth zoning ordinance while aligning with the vision that the Mayor, City Planner, Planning Board and City Council have communicated over a two year public hearing process…

“I feel that we have arrived at a thoughtful design that will proudly serve as a gateway to the City and provide much needed resources. In our experience, pivotal projects such as One Boston Way are also the catalyst to change.”

VI. Planning Board Approval

A few weeks later, the Planning Board unanimously approves One Boston Way. The decision reads:

“This project’s architecture, landscaping, lighting, and pedestrian-oriented spaces have been designed to create a livable and vibrant new center in Newburyport. The Project, once complete, will greatly enhance the character of this underutilized area.”

To learn more about the road to success in Newburyport’s Smart Growth district, visit us on Facebook.

Reposted from:
Strand Marketing
10 Railroad Street, Newburyport, MA  01950

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Newburyport Summer – Explore our Rivers and Seas!

SummerWater_2016July 5, 2016

Maritime activities play a huge role in our community. Our city was literally formed around ship building! Now, many captains and sailors continue the nautical traditions by offering sightseeing tours, fishing charters and sailing trips.

Yacht Trips & Sailing Tours

Compass Rose Yacht Charters – Capt. Gig Michaud is ready to take you and your crew on a very special tour. You and five friends can board his 35’ Tiara Yacht “Gia” and take a leisurely tour through the Merrimack River or be adventuresome and head to Isle of Shoals, Rockport, Annisquam River or anywhere else along the Northshore coastline!

Schooner Thomas E. Lannon - Picture yourself relaxing on the deck of a beautiful 65-foot schooner as she sails out of Gloucester harbor on a light southwesterly breeze. These two-hour tours are bound to be a memorable adventure for you and your family. Private charters and group rates available!

Ninth Wave Sailing Charters - Not all who wander are lost! That could be the slogan for the Ninth Wave. Set sail aboard this beautiful 48’ Catamaran for a two and a half hour tour. They leave through the mouth of the Merrimack River and sail to no particular destination along the coastline or directly out to sea while choosing the best wind angle for maximum speed. Also great for private parties!

Newburyport Whale Watch - Climb aboard the spacious, 106′ Captains Lady III to begin your whale watching voyage! Your journey departs from downtown Newburyport, where you’ll travel out the Merrimack River into the Gulf of Maine. This is the feeding ground for a variety of marine life including, but not limited to, Humpback, Finback, and Minke Whales as well as Porpoise, Seals, Sharks and an array of Sea Birds. The open ocean holds many species of diverse wildlife, making every trip a unique and exciting experience.


Two Captain’s Charters – Captain Ed and Captain Jeff will make sure your day is filled with fun, exciting and memorable moments. They take you out on a very well-equipped sport fishing vessel that includes rods that they make! In fact, you may have seen these rods on the show Wicked Tuna. You feel every nibble, bite or strike helping you catch all the action. From baiting your hook to cleaning your fish, they have you covered.

Rocky Point Fishing Charters – Captain Bill Jarman will take you and your friends out for a day of Striper or Bluefish fishing off of Newburyport, Salisbury, Plum Island or Ipswich Bay! He offers ½ day, full day, ‘After work specials’ or sunset cruises. Reserve today – the best dates go early!

Captain’s Fishing Parties – Have a large group of friends that want to catch a lunker? Captain’s Fishing Parties have you covered. Their vessels can handle over 100 individuals and are pros at finding fish. They launch their ships from Plum Island Point. You are bound to have a great time on this one!

River Cruises

Yankee Clipper Harbor Tours - The Yankee Clipper is a fun, family-friendly way to experience the Merrimack River and Newburyport Harbor. Their Newburyport Harbor and Great Salt Marsh Ecotours bring 15,000 years of natural history to life, spanning the end of the last ice age to the 21st century. On a one-hour narrated tour, you'll meet the resident plant and wildlife of the area, and your crew will weave together the area's natural, economic, and maritime history with the ecological significance of one of the world's most beautiful and scenic natural resources. Beer, wine, soft drinks, healthy snacks and activities for kids are all available on board.

Merrimack River Tours - Join Captain Bill who has three decades of experience doing history and ecology tours of the mighty Merrimack and its environs. This one hour voyage treats you to vistas of great beauty, including views of several towns, islands, bridges, water fowl, and picturesque waterfront homes. It’s no wonder that writers and poets of yesteryear were moved to write about this jewel of a river.

Essex River Cruises & Charters – Since 1992, Essex River Cruises & Charters have been offering interesting and informative river cruises! Discover the beauty and heritage of Essex, Massachusetts and the Great Marsh, as you cruise the pristine sheltered waters of the Essex River. Tours depart from Dodge Street in Essex, MA. A short 20 minute drive from Newburyport!


Plum Island Kayak – If small self-powered vessels are your style then Plum Island Kayak is your place. They offer a wide variety of guided Kayak and Stand Up Paddle Board tours. Not interested in a group tour? Then why not rent or arrange for a private tour or private instruction. They also organize unique "Peddle & Paddle" adventures.

Newbury Kayak & Canoe – Located on the Parker River in Newbury, this renovated outdoor sport shop also has a boat launch right on the property! Before or after your adventure, do a little shopping and pick up something special for your fellow outdoor sports enthusiast or for yourself.

Chris Johnston, Director of Membership Development
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Newburyport Summer – Rainy Day? Tannery Marketplace Has You Covered!

TanneryMarketplace_2016June 28, 2016

Nobody likes a rainy day during the summer, but unfortunately – it happens. 

Instead of having your kids, dogs and other family members dirty your floors, head over to The Tannery Marketplace and dirty their floors!  The Tannery Marketplace, located at 50 Water Street, has a plethora of rainy day activities for kids of all ages.


Pottery Isle – You and your kids can express your artistic talents!  Pick out your own piece of pottery and decorate it to create a unique gift.  Sure to be a keepsake for years to come.  No appointment necessary.  *accepts Newburyport Gift Card

Eureka Toy Store – An awesome combination of classic toys, stuffed animals and modern toys for kids from 0 – 100 years old.  They have plenty of toys on display that kids can play with and try out before buying!

Jabberwocky Book Store – We are so fortunate to have this great independent book store in Newburyport.  Two different sections of kid’s books are available for you to look at.  No matter what your preference, there is a book for you.  Put down the Kindle and pick up a book!

Beach Plum Too – Floral designs and decorations that will brighten anybody’s day.  They also feature pop-up shops including Mill 77 Trading Company and Simply B custom invitations and stationary. 

Gentry’s Boutique - An amazing consignment shop that has clothing for any style.  They feature a collection of top end labels and a pleasant staff that is there to make you look your best!

Newburyport Olive Oil & Port Plums - A foodie’s heaven.  On one side they have 50 varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. On the other side, they have one-of-a-kind and locally made kitchenware as well as all your essentials.  It’s a one-stop-shop!

Wishbasket - There’s a reason they named this store ‘Wishbasket.’  It’s because you’ll wish everything was in your shopping basket!  Unique housewares that will make your home the best decorated in the neighborhood.

Riverside Cycle – Set your sights on a new pair of wheels for those sunny days!  You can also set up bike rentals and tours. 

And don’t forget your four-legged friends! Quinn’s Canine Café is a doggie’s dream. Freshly made and healthy, Quinn’s treats are known throughout the dog-kingdom.


Chococoa Baking Company – Home of the world famous Whoopie!  These all natural treats are absolutely amazing.  It’s a café, so stop by for an afternoon pick-me-up!  If you have to get some work done, take advantage of their ‘Coffice!’

Edible Arrangements – Known for their fruit arrangements, this place offers so much more.  Including the freshest smoothies you can possibly imagine.  Also a great place to pick up some chocolate covered strawberries!

Revitalive Café & Juice Bar – healthy eaters unite!  Their award winning organic, vegetarian and vegan food, will re-energize you and get you through the day.  A wide range of breakfast, lunch and dinner options available.

Newburyport Farmer’s Market – Did we mention they have a farmer’s market every Sunday (rain or shine!)  You can support your local artisans and farmers from 9am – 1pm in the Tannery parking lot.  While there enjoy music from a local musician!

Next time it rains, don’t be bored in your house – get out and explore The Tannery Marketplace!

Chris Johnston, Director of Membership Development
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Newburyport in the Summer: Alternative Lunchtime Locales

SummerLunch_2016June 22, 2016

This is part of a series of weekly blog posts with ideas how you can enjoy the beautiful Newburyport summer season!

Get out. 

That’s our advice to you. 

You’ve all heard the slogan, ‘If you don’t like the weather in New England … just wait a minute.’  That is exactly why you should take every advantage to get outside during your lunch break.  It’s amazing what a little bit of fresh ocean air, warm summer breezes and sunshine can do for your psyche.  All of a sudden work doesn’t seem that bad!

Here are some ideas where you can get outside, enjoy your lunch and watch the world go by:

·         Market Square/Inn Street – An obvious choice if you are the ‘people watching’ type.  It’s really cool to think that you live/work in a town that people come to on vacation.  How lucky are we?!  With the addition to the new splash pad on Inn Street you can now dip your toes in the water on those hot days! 

·         Boardwalk – Nothing more relaxing than listening to the boats rock and the sounds of a busker singing tunes.  Grab a bench, watch the boats in the river and relax. 

·         Joppa Flats/Cashman Park/Maudslay State Park/Moseley Woods/Atkinson Common – We are blessed to have so much open space within a stone’s throw of downtown.  Here are five ideas of places where you can escape the office and enjoy nature. 

Almost all the restaurants in town offer call ahead/takeout service, so if you forget to pack your lunch – no worries! 

Chris Johnston, Director of Membership
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Monday, April 25, 2016

Economic Development Advice from the Pros: Think Global, Act Local and Rally Together

Newburyport-economic-development_042516April 25, 2016
By Dave Strand

Fresh off a webinar put on by the Northeast Economic Developers Association (NEDA) on April 21st, I thought I’d share my takeaways and thoughts as the city of Newburyport and the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce are actively engaged in an economic development plan as part of the city’s master planning process.

The title of the webinar was “Understanding Innovation & Entrepreneur Eco-Systems for Economic Development” and the presenters were: Maria Meyers, Founder, U.S. SourceLink; Catherine S. Renault, PhD, Innovation Policyworks, LLC; and Don Macke, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The one-hour webinar was enlightening and encouraging on many levels. The good news is Newburyport’s assets, which include human capital, location, and connection to trends, are very positive. The challenge appears to be, like it is in so many other communities, balancing a combined government and volunteer effort to organize around and affect change while agreeing on a common set of core values and beliefs. For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to state up front what my beliefs are, and I invite others to join in and offer their own points of view, so that we might make this a thread that helps become a catalyst for progress and change.

As a marketing and branding professional, I’ve always thought that Newburyport’s reputation as a historic shipbuilding and manufacturing hub is an extremely under-utilized asset. While I commend our Custom House Maritime Museum for their hard work and dedication in keeping our local history alive, it’s far from enough when one realizes what an important part of our community this element is. I also believe that Newburyport’s burgeoning commitment to being “green” is worth continual investment and exposure. This has nothing to do with my politics, by the way. I’m a firmly committed Independent (if there is such a thing). This is about opportunity and social consciousness. Finally, if one looked under a map of the world at Newburyport it would show deep roots of cultural and economic strength. Roots connected to a legacy of worldwide maritime commerce, medicine anchored by Anna Jaques Hospital, industry represented by the work of the Newburyport Area Industrial Development group (NAID), and roots to hospitality and waterside tourism as represented by our charming stores, restaurants, museum, inns, and annual events that draw people (with their wallets) to our community. I’ve coined the phrase “Newburyport―Historic, Green, and Growing” as my guiding thread while I put forth my community volunteering efforts.

With this tidy and handy thread in mind, I plucked two tidbits from the webinar:

  1. We are not Boston, Austin or even Portsmouth. We are the city of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Our assets are different. Our local banks are the “investors.” Our small, one-to-five-person businesses and work-from-home workforce represent a huge part of our business base and labor market. And while we have North Shore Community College, there are no major university/incubator/innovation centers that organically create offspring, etc., etc. The point: We have to overcome our small-city limitations by focusing on other strengths, as opposed to expecting similar organic results that are achieved in other places.

  2. The ecosystem of our community matters. Building on point one, as one looks at economic growth, we should be asking “Growth of what?” Every city has a baseline. In my opinion, Newburyport’s baseline is as I’ve stated above. To realize the value of this in terms of being an ecosystem, we must nourish it. Here are a few ideas and strategies:

  1. Create a common calendar of events—whether the chamber or city takes the lead the benefit to the community, and to fostering collaboration, of a group calendar is extremely high. The data support it as does first-hand observation I’ve had personally.

  2. Support “Meetups”—Chamber mixers are a start, but there’s value in fostering a meetup mentality around the region that covers key business issues, growth issues, and necessary interconnections, that may or may not include Chamber members. This could be a way for the Chamber to say “Hey, yes, we are a membership organization. But we’re also a community organization.” And wink, wink, nod, nod, it may be a great way to attract new members.

  3. Make commitments and see them through: Newburyport-economic-development2_042516Leaders and volunteers in and around any community endeavor must never bite off more than they can chew. They also need to resolve to get to an end game. Nothing plagues a community more than long-drawn-out “ideas."

  4. Think beyond the idea of a first-floor co-working space at Minco’s future One Boston Way Smart Growth district apartment building and pick up the playbook used by nationally recognized commercial real estate innovator wework ( By keeping our finger on the pulse of the future of the way people work, we’ll be considered a place to come to work. What do you say @New England Development? Can we make something like this happen on a broader scale in the ‘port?

  5. Recreation is key. For the love of God, can we please stop cherishing the thought of a soon to be completed rail trail and finish it already so we can move to the trails in the city forest and common pasture? Have you seen the vistas out there? Of course not, you’ll be covered in poison ivy. But bring in a few goats and let’s get people moving all around this wonderful city from Plum Island to the interstate. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing another person taking care of themselves and enjoying the great outdoors.

  6. Bring a buddy’s work to work (in Newburyport). Have a friend with a business somewhere else? Have a favorite shop in another town? Be an ambassador. Many of us also work at some pretty great companies, too. What say you REI, Timberland, Whole Foods, and Medtech guys drop some serious hints with the boss about Newburyport, eh?

  7. Put a solar panel array on your roof. It’s like a hat. It’s functional and keeps you (and us) looking smart.

  8. Invest in Plum Island. Save the rusty bolt and sewer debate for another day and consider the vitality of a re-invigorated and active Plum Island point and Plum Island Center. In their heyday, these places were a mecca for family recreation, enjoyment and commerce.
The final bit of advice I took away from the webinar was that even small rural communities today have to think on a global scale. High-speed Internet connectivity, ecommerce, global promotion of your resources and businesses, and general goodness oozing out of your community online is just good juju that attracts people far and wide. Who’s got a friend in Vietnam who’d like to come for a visit and stay for a lifetime? Maybe open a new restaurant here? We could sure use the diversity in the food and fabric of our community.

Dave Strand is CEO and Brand Director of Strand Marketing of Newburyport and founder of the Facebook group Newburyport Forward. He can be reached at

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Monday, February 15, 2016

Perspective of a New Resident in Newburyport

marketsquare_feb2016A few weeks ago, we hosted local historian, Ghlee Woodworth, and her presentation on the Urban Renewal in Newburyport during the 1970’s.

As a six year resident of Newburyport, it was eye opening to see the rollercoaster of history that this town has endured. When my wife and I moved here, we called it ‘the quintessential New England town’ and our realtor told us ‘if you live here, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation every day!’

Six years later…we still feel this way.

A few years after living here, we were shocked to hear that our quaint little town had a rough and tumble past.

Wait…the Tannery was an actual Tannery?

All these stores were boarded up?

You could buy a mansion on High Street for less than a million dollars?!

Ghlee’s presentation was both eye opening and inspiring. To think that our city was built up, torn down, built up, burnt down, boarded up and rebuilt is absolutely astonishing. It made me think, no wonder lifelong residents of this city have such pride in what they’ve created! As one attendee joked to me “I’ve lived here for 40 years and I’ve applied for citizenship, but was denied…”

The purpose of this post is to say thank you to those that made the right decisions in 1970 and also to motivate the ‘newbies’ in this town to continue the tradition of being both innovative and respective of the history of Newburyport. We live in a really really REALLY special place.

Chris Johnston, Director of Membership
Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Newburyport Now
Newburyport Now
Saturday, January 16, 2016

Tools for Being a Better Listener When Your Customers Aren’t in the Room

Image via GraphicStock

Blog_1_ImageMost of the time being a better listener means closing your mouth and not thinking about what you will say next. But the real listening help most small business owners need in today’s business climate is digital.

Why Being a Good Listener is Important

In addition to people feeling more valued when they believe you’re listening to them, being a good listener helps you find sales opportunities, solve customer frustrations before they escalate, learn about your competitor’s customers’ complaints, and build a loyal customer base. Here are some tips on how you can find out what’s being said about you, your business, and the service you provide or product you sell.

Assemble a Toolkit
There are plenty of options when it comes to social media and digital monitoring. They run the gamut on expense as well from free to hundreds of dollars a month for a large enterprise solution. Most small businesses can get by with the free options, at least in the beginning. The only reason to upgrade to a paid platform early on is out of a desire to have an integrated dashboard for monitoring and not have to use several tools to accomplish the results you’d like.

Google Alerts
This is an extremely easy way to be alerted on people taking about any subject you’re interested in. Go to, enter in a word or phrase you want to monitor for, and then decide how often you’d like to be notified, what source you want Google to scan (news, blogs, etc.), the language, region, and how many results to report on. The results you receive will be emailed to you based on your preferences. At the very least you should set up alerts on the following:

·         Company name and variations (set this alert to “as-it-happens”)

·         Names of C-suite, owners, or anyone with a highly visible profile within your company    (another as-it-happens)

·         Industry you serve, product you make, service you provide

·         Problems you help with (for instance “flooded basement”)

·         Competitor’s name and variations (as-it-happens)

You can also use alerts to do research on how often someone is talking about a service or product.

If you’ve ever attempted to search on Twitter or Facebook, you realize how unreliable the results are and that’s why you want to use a third-party tool to do it. If someone is talking about you (without using your handle), you don’t want to run the risk of missing it.

Twilert and Tweetdeck
These sites allow you to monitor Twitter in much the same way you monitor the web through Google alerts. Twilert will serve up alerts to your inbox while Tweetdeck places them in a stream on their site for you. Twilert offers a 30-day trial but is a paid service with plans starting at $9 a month. Tweetdeck is free. Some people prefer Hootsuite to Tweetdeck.

SocialMention turns up things you don’t find elsewhere such as videos and audio recordings. You can run manual searches or use their alert feature. Also check out TalkWalker.

Mention will also deliver alerts to your inbox. It’s free for a limited number of mentions delivered per month. After you reach the limit, it stops delivering them for that month or gives you the option to upgrade to a paid plan. If people talk about you often, you’ll need to be part of their paid plans. The nice thing about this service is that you can review the mentions and tell the site whether they are relevant or not.

Paid Services
In addition to the paid versions of the free platforms above Radian6 (part of SalesForce) and Nimble offer more than just alerts, they provide insights and analysis.

A Final Word About Listening
Listening is one of the most critical things to your business’ success in social media. If people are talking about you and you’re not part of the conversation you’re missing a sales opportunity and a customer service avenue. Thanks to companies like HP and BestBuy, people are conditioned to expect faster service from Twitter than a phone call so this must be a priority for you.

When someone is talking about something you can help with offer your expertise, not your business card. Help them out the way you would a friend not a salesperson. Look to have a conversation before you try to sell. If you overhear something and force a salesy conversation, it will feel creepy.

Look for opportunities to help. If you do, they’ll come back when they are ready to buy.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine,, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager’s Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Photo credit:  GraphicStock