Business Forum

Town Manager Lisa Wong (foreground) hosted a business forum with business leaders and town officials to discuss upcoming and current town center projects. She also listened to ideas on how the town and businesses could better communicate.

WINCHESTER - On Wednesday, July 31, Town Manager Lisa Wong teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce to hold a forum to support local retailers. The Chamber helped reach out to a number of businesses. There were about 20 businesses in attendance at the forum and about two dozen people in attendance, which included town officials.

Wong stated the goal of this forum was to update businesses on the various projects that Winchester has going on in the downtown area, which includes traffic studies, infrastructure improvements and the MBTA commuter rail town center renovation.

Wong specified at the forum they showed the community the short- and long-term improvements at Church Street and Waterfield Road in terms of pedestrian safety. Also addressed were the need at the McCall Middle School for traffic funding, two bridges that they are seeking funding to fix, the Waterfield Road and Lake Street bridges, and the MBTA improvements which would start sometime next year and continue for several years.

Wong noted they basically wanted to open up communication to the businesses to let them know what is going on and ask them how they would like to be kept informed and in the loop for the future.

The next part of the forum was to gather ideas in the categories of infrastructure improvements, marketing, branding and promotions. Sticky notes were given to those in attendance to write down ideas that fit into those categories and then were discussed. The next step will be to review the various ideas that people have and come up with an implementation strategy.

The ideas each individual wrote down varied from improving signage and lighting to putting on events, to putting together some marketing tools such as maps and a directory of businesses, etc. They also had ideas about infrastructure improvements which varied from creating more outdoor furniture, such as having more places for people to sit and enjoy nature, to helping get bicycles off sidewalks, as well as helping accommodate bikers, etc.

Wong said that there were a lot of ideas and the Chamber took some good notes and they will have a follow up meeting to organize and strategize the comments.

She mentioned “it was really great to get comprehensive feedback.”

The last part of the forum was asking the community what the best way would be to get in touch with everyone. Wong said there was an idea to create a page off the town website which they will be working on. Also, there was an email list that was sent around so they could email people updates about certain projects. Another idea was that if there were certain projects coming up Wong and other town officials will actually visit businesses and let them know what was going on personally.

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