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Malcolm Gladwell & November 6th

Malcolm Gladwell & November 6th

Media Courtesy of Central Street Media.

On November 6th in soggy shoes and damp clothes, we welcomed almost 100 attendees to a community event at Trestle View Park. The rain fell lightly on the tent as Franklin’s Interim Mayor, Scott Clarenbach, set the stage, explaining the City’s deep industrial history and noting that rain is a requirement if we are to welcome whitewater paddlers. Together we celebrated progress and partnerships related to Franklin’s whitewater project, Mill City Park. The attendance, eagerness, and excitement was proof of a spreading idea. 

“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.”

This is a quote from The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, a book that was required reading somewhere along my educational path. The book is packed with applicable information to understand the movement of ideas through societies. When I first read it, it was simply a homework assignment. It wasn't until I became a part of this community that the book had deeper value and meaning for me.

Multiple organizations at the state and local levels have contributed to and supported our revitalization movement. This connection was demonstrated by the remarks given from the Commissioner of New Hampshire’s Department of Business and Economic Affairs and avid cycling enthusiast, Taylor Caswell. The Commissioner spoke passionately from his own experience of how recreation can be the engine to redefine, redevelop and restart a community. 

With little interruption, the crowd then heard from Franklin Savings Bank Board of Directors Chairman, Charlie Chandler. With a direct message, booming voice and gusto, Charlie addressed the crowd, proudly unveiling Franklin Savings Bank’s donation of $250,000 to Mill City Park as seed money. By the time of his announcement, half had already been donated and the second installment is scheduled for the 2018 calendar year.

“That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.” 

This gracious commitment didn’t materialize overnight. Multiple steps and accomplishments lead to this point, many documented through past articles and papers, and just as many that are not.

As with all of the ongoing downtown efforts, it starts with a relationship, with collaboration, acceptance and belief. These relationships are incredibly important; without them, we are just another group of do-gooders with an application or cold call. 

Our relationship with Franklin Savings Bank started at Outdoor New England on January 1st, 2016. I remember the conversation clearly. I quickly learned the difference between a bank in a community, and a community-first bank. Their commitment to this community is demonstrated monthly if not daily via donations, council, or support to local nonprofits, the City, our revitalization partner PermaCityLife, and now Mill City Park. 

“In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.” 

There is a lot to this quote. 

First, intelligent action. I cannot speak from experience as I am a newcomer to the community. However, others have identified that they believe in the last 30+ years, this is the first time the pieces seem to be coming together. I choose to believe in the players, the change makers, the risk takers, and innovators. This group now encompasses, but is not limited to, municipality members, local and state nonprofits, collegiate academia and administration, state delegates, community members, for profit businesses, and our community-first bank.

Second, the Tipping Point. I honestly don’t believe we are at this infamous moment yet. However, I know we are moving forward. The scale is constantly changing as our idea spreads… The Winnipesaukee River powered Franklin and the region once and it can again. With hard work, continued focus, and our community partners, tomorrow will be brighter and wetter than today… That is our tipping point.

Lastly, thank you Franklin Savings Bank! We are honored and forever grateful for your donation, belief, and unwavering support for this project!

By M. Parichand, Mill City Park

Franklin’s revitalization project picking up momentum

Franklin’s revitalization project picking up momentum

Concord Monitor | Elodie Reed

In his three decades of watching Franklin start and stop economic revitalization projects, Franklin Savings Bank President Ron Magoon said this time, something’s different.

“In 29 years, this is the first time there’s been all the right people at the table,” he said.

That includes city officials, local businesses, the nonprofit PermaCityLife and members of the public. Through collaborative efforts, new businesses have opened up downtown, an old mill building has been renovated for affordable housing, and plans have moved forward for a whitewater play park.

It was with confidence, then, that Franklin Savings Bank bought a quarter of the $400,000 in tax credits New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority awarded to the Franklin Business and Industrial Development Corporation in August.

Franklin Savings Bank made its investment in February. Bank of New Hampshire followed with a $25,000 purchase, and just recently, Eversource Energy bought up the remaining $275,000.

Now, that money will go toward facade improvements for buildings owned by PermaCityLife. They are slated to begin in July or August and last through the end of the year.

“There’s been so much deferred maintenance in these buildings,” Todd Workman, PermaCityLife’s executive director said. Buell’s Block, Shepard Block and 337 Central St. will all get a facelift, though through the above mentioned partnerships, the work has already begun.

Where once empty and boarded storefronts lined the bottom floor of Buell’s Block, new green-painted facades welcome visitors to a coffee shop and outdoor sports store.

Across the street at “Toad Hall,” the former art gallery is being renovated into a tavern – new paint covered the tin ceilings Monday, and the large windows will be replaced within the month.

All of these upgrades will continue with the CDFA tax credit money. More windows will be replaced in Buell’s Block, and the back of the building will have work done to make way for a brewery.

At 337 Central St., the three storefronts there will get “a complete redo,” Workman said.

This work is what moves PermaCityLife’s goals from planning to action, Workman said. And some of the organization’s permaculture ideas will become tangible, too: a “green roof” is part of the upgrade for 337 Central St.

When businesses with rooftop gardens, a tavern, shops and a fixed up city center are noticeable to those driving through, City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said, Franklin becomes a place people want to be.

“People buy with their eyes,” she said. “To be able to see some visible changes to the buildings will be able to help change the perception.”

Workman added, “The stigma goes away and people start to have confidence in the project.”

Franklin has a number of long-held stigmas to overcome, but given all that’s already happened in the downtown, the community partners there are optimistic.

“We have a lot of momentum building,” Dragon said. Workman regularly receives referrals for small businesses wanting to move to Franklin, and tradesmen, business owners and organizations already in the community are getting involved, too.

From the Franklin Business and Industrial Development Corporation’s perspective, the hope is that in addition to retail businesses, a stronger downtown Franklin will attract a skilled workforce.

“We have a shortage of skilled labor,” FBIDC director Jim Aberg said. “It’s one thing to have the jobs offered in the industrial park, but as people say, where’s my wife going to shop, where are my kids going to school?”

It’s a future that seems a little closer, at least to Franklin Savings Bank’s Magoon.

“If it fails this time, it’s never going to happen – this is the best shot we have and have ever had,” he said. “I think everyone is truly optimistic this is going to happen. And it is happening.”

Business IQ Radio Interview

NH SBDC Business Advisor Andrea O'Brien & Professor and Business Owner Don Byrne interview Marty Parichand.