MANCHESTER, N.H. – What should be Manchester’s brand? The process to determine that brand just took another step.
Last Wednesday night at the Palace Theatre, residents gathered to discuss points related to Manchester’s ongoing branding initiative.
After receiving funding for the initiative from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the project kicked off earlier this year with Wednesday’s meeting providing in-person feedback on the personality of Manchester.
Sam Preston of North Star Place Branding returned to moderate the discussion, trying to narrow down what exactly is the essence of Manchester through a series of questions to the assembled residents as a group, with additional questions they could answer on their own afterward.
The assembled crowd told Preston that Manchester is a city that deserves to be proud of itself, but has often had a chip on its shoulder from what can seem like a lack of respect from the rest of New Hampshire and other places across the country.
“Most people don’t realize how good we have it here,” said Nick Lavalee.
Members of the audience at the event used a variety of adjectives and phrases to describe Manchester ranging from bold to versatile to edgy to inclusive to snarky and clever to authentic to blue-collar to New Hampshire’s economic engine, New Hampshire’s whipping boy and even New Hampshire’s heart.
Jen Drociak felt that last analogy was even more apt given the biofabrication industry emerging in the Millyard.
“Unfortunately, we’re a corridor or pass-through to other places and I sometimes I think that makes us seen as part of the veins or the arteries of the state, but we’re really the heartbeat, especially given what’s happening down at ARMI,” said Drociak.
A variety of other ideas such as re-introducing kayaking to the Merrimack River to removing the word “Boston” from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport to emphasizing the city’s history and vibrant restaurant scene were discussed. However, the discussion remained either positive or at very least aiming to help change the city’s negativity, with participants grateful for the opportunity for their thoughts to be heard.
“We are well aware of the challenges the city faces and we won’t solve homelessness or create housing,” said Manchester Economic Development Office Director Jodie Nazaka of the initiative. “But this gives us a change to be proud of who we are and what we could be.”
Other data accumulated by North Point will be released to the public soon through the Manchester Economic Development Office according to Preston.
Those who did not have the opportunity to participate can still voice their views on the city’s branding initiative by going to distinctlymanchester.com