Carroll County's downtown communities are joining together in an effort to encourage residents to shop local. "Shopping local isn't just in your neighborhood, it's in the county's neighborhoods," said Missie Wilcox, owner of Marketworks, a marketing and advertising firm based in Westminster.
Wilcox, Carroll County economic development administrator Jon Weetman and officials from 10 of the county's downtown communities have been working together since January to organize the "Carroll County Downtowns" partnership.
The partnership's immediate focus is to increase awareness of buying local and in the long run increase sales for vendors, Wilcox said.
"You don't just build it and they will come," she said. "You have to build it, you have to tell it, you have to sell it, you have to Facebook it, tweet it, everything."
The shop local campaign includes a website listing annual events, popular restaurants and stores in each downtown area, rack cards to be distributed throughout the county, and a billboard promoting the idea of shopping local.
The billboard, currently positioned on Route 97 outside of Union Mills, will be moved every 30 days, Wilcox said.
After promoting the county's downtown communities, Weetman said the next step is measuring how effective the message has been.
He said the partnership, which meets quarterly, will track its progress at first by how much traffic the website generates.
"We want to see progress before we continue," Weetman said.
Nancy McCormick, economic development director for Taneytown, said she has already noticed the effects of the campaign.
She recently spoke to visitors from Mount Airy who heard about some of the city's attractions through word of mouth.
"This helps us all network together," McCormick said of the partnership.
Wilcox said the idea originated when state-designated Main Street communities such as Hampstead, Westminster, Sykesville, Taneytown, and Mount Airy realized they were are planning individually and could benefit from working together.
The campaign also includes Eldersburg, Finksburg, Manchester, New Windsor and Union Bridge.
The goal is for the organization to become a co-operative, potentially offering businesses a chance to share costs for advertisements in the future, Wilcox said.
For more information, visit www.carrollcountydowntowns.com.