February 15, 2008
A local marketing committee, which seeks to create an overall branding strategy for the Town of Fort Kent, today presented its plans to more than 100 citizens and business leaders at a community business breakfast hosted by the University of Maine at Fort Kent. The committee also unveiled a logo through which it hopes to display the brand. The logo, with its incorporated slogan, “America’s First Mile,” focuses on the first mile of the U.S. Route 1 travel experience, and its role in defining Fort Kent as a travel destination. The goal of the committee is to make Fort Kent a destination for visitors and sports enthusiasts; for people who enjoy the wonders of the region’s natural environment; for those who want to learn more about the unique history of the Valley, its culture, and its people; and for visitors who want to shop for local art and crafts. Key elements of the committee’s branding strategy include its role in differentiating Fort Kent from other destinations, its ability to empower local business and commerce, and the role of all citizens in the initiative. The “America’s First Mile” concept also aims to permit travelers and visitors to find “a place of value,” and to fulfill “the promise of quality experiences.” The “America’s First Mile” branding strategy was presented to the business breakfast audience by committee members Dr. Richard Cost, George Dumond, and John Freeman. Members of the marketing committee include: John Bannen, Town of Fort Kent; Heidi Carter, Heidesign Creative Studio; Dr. Richard Cost, University of Maine at Fort Kent; Darleen Dumond, Bee-Jay’s Tavern; George Dumond, Prudential Financial; John Freeman, local business interest; Don Guimond, Town of Fort Kent; Glenn Lamarr, TD BankNorth; Dr. Rod Lahren, local business interest; Leroy Martin, Up North Corporation; Kirk Paradis, Paradis Family Supermarkets; Peter Sirois, Northern Maine Medical Center; Nancy Thibodeau, Fort Kent Chamber of Commerce; and Dan Vaillancourt, Daigle Oil Company. The development of the branding strategy and of the committee’s formation both were a long time in the making. In the spring of 2007, a committee was formed to provide feedback to the Libra Foundation on the importance of the International Biathlon Union World Cup to Fort Kent, and to the local economy. The committee worked with a consultant hired by the Foundation, and in a series of meetings it laid out the case why further investment in facilities at the 10th Mountain Ski Center, and in the overall event, was good for Fort Kent and good for northern Maine. As the work of the committee came to a successful end (it obtained the additional investments for the 10th Mountain facility), members of the committee felt that while that step was important, it was only one step which addressed the venue, but not the community. The committee felt that its goal in 2009 was to use the IBU World Cup to promote the economy and the viability of Fort Kent. The committee continued to meet and moved forward with a strategy to create an economic engine for the Town of Fort Kent that would better market the attractions, services, history, and recreational areas of the community. At about the same time, another committee of local business leaders was gathering to look at very similar issues. That committee focused on creating a strategy and a theme to more effectively convey the message about what Fort Kent has to offer. Its focus was on branding the Town of Fort Kent. In spite of the small size of the town, both committees worked diligently for quite some time until, quite by happenstance, they bumped into one another. The two committees met jointly for two or three sessions, and very quickly realized that their goals were similar and that each group stood to be more effective if it worked together with the other group. The intention of the combined committee, is to have portions of its plan in place and visible by the time of the next World Cup in March 2009. But the committee understands that the strategy is something that will extend far beyond a single event. The committee’s hope is that the branding effort will create a focal point for the community far into the future. Its goal is to promote the community, the surrounding St. John Valley, and the northern Aroostook region, in ways that will assure the economic vitality of all persons living and doing business in the area. ## For further information, please contact Terence Kelly, UMFK Director of University Relations at 834-7558 or John Bannen, Town of Fort Kent Director of Planning and Community Development at 834-3507.