Cumberland Times-News

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June 18, 2013

Canal Place authority pursuing plan to develop branding, marketing strategy

Officials hope most of $100,000 project can be paid for through grants

CUMBERLAND — The Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority voted Tuesday to pursue a plan of action to develop a branding and marketing strategy for the tourism hub and surrounding Canal Place Heritage Area.

At an estimated cost of $100,000, the plan will allow Canal Place to develop a uniform name, a logo, signs, products and marketing programs. The first phase of the plan would involve a study of potential customers.

“You need to see what the market is and who are the people that you are trying to look at,” said Richard Hughes, administrator for the Maryland Heritage Area Authority.

One of only 12 heritage areas in Maryland, the Canal Place Heritage Area is also under consideration for an expansion of territory it covers.

“Canal Place is changing to bring in so much more of the county,” said Hughes.

Hughes said the study will tell who the visitors will be and thereby deciding who to promote to.

“You have an opportunity to be a model for the heritage areas statewide,” said Marci Ross, the assistant director of the Maryland Office of Tourism and Development.

Officials hope the branding and marketing plan can be paid for through grants.

The authority is also looking to secure additional funds, to add to the $78,644 it has already received from a Federal Transportation Enhancement, to create a trailhead at the south end of the railway station.

The trailhead will include bike racks, shelters, picnic tables and signs and will be handicapped accessible. Total cost for the trailhead is expected to be about $150,000.

The authority also accepted a bid of $59,325 from Taylor Sports and Recreation to have a 60- by 63-foot playground built on the grassy area behind the railway station that currently has picnic tables.

The playground, which will include a train theme, is designed to reflect the past history of the area.

The authority also announced during the regular meeting that it has applied for its annual 2014 operating grant of $100,000 from the MHAA.

It was also disclosed that a festival is being planned for Sept. 21 and 22 that will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Details on the festival are expected soon.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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