Chamber of Commerce moves to historic Deerfield

Posted: 1/9/2022 23:10:33 PM

Modified: 1/9/2022 23:09:41 PM

DEERFIELD – After 36 years on Main Street in Greenfield, the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is moving to Historic Deerfield to establish a new and expanded visitor center for the area.

As travel brings millions of dollars to Franklin County every year, the Chamber of Commerce seeks to grab the attention of tourists visiting the area and encourage them to spend more time and money in the area.

There is no set date for the opening of the visitors’ center, which is located at 79 Old Main Street in Old Deerfield, but the chamber’s executive director, Diana Szynal, said an opening at the mid-January is expected.

Szynal said an improved visitor center in Historic Deerfield can present all of the county’s recreational and tourism opportunities. The chamber’s current drop-in center is a Greenfield Motor Vehicle Registry office, which Szynal described as inadequate for a regional drop-in center. She added that the pandemic has also moved the RMV to a date-only base, further limiting opportunities for the visitor center.

“We felt like we were missing an opportunity to inspire them to stay in Franklin County or come back to Franklin County. … This is what a visitor center should do, ”Szynal said in an interview in his office. “We are really happy to partner with them. “

She said tourism is a vital part of Franklin County’s economy – tourists spent $ 67.5 million in 2019, according to a state report – and that an efficient visitor center could encourage more people to revisit the county and stay overnight.

“Visitors and tourists really contribute a lot to the economy,” Szynal said. “Therefore, we need to capture as many as possible. “

Szynal said the move to Deerfield is “mutually beneficial” for both Historic Deerfield and the House. She added that the museum, along with Yankee Candle and Tree House Brewing, attracts “a lot of tourists to this Deerfield corridor.” She also noted that the new visitor center is somewhat in the center of Franklin County, which will help point people to “the enormous amount of recreational opportunities.”

“Deerfield has really become the hub of tourism,” Szynal said. “We can let these tourists know that Barton Cove is on the road. … We can direct people to Shelburne Falls. … There is a lot going on here.

The new Visitors Center is integrated with the Historic Deerfield Museum Shop and has enough space for Szynal and her staff to highlight specific seasonal events such as the Green River Festival or CiderDays, while still allowing staff to work directly with the public.

“This will give us the opportunity to interact personally with visitors, which we have never had before,” she said. “It’s planned for a reception center. … Franklin County is nice and welcoming, and our Visitor Center will be too.

Additional amenities planned include digital screens to play videos produced by the chamber and other interactive screens that will highlight upcoming events.

In the multi-year search for a new location, Szynal said the chamber had left no stone unturned and that Historic Deerfield offered the best opportunity. She added that the most important criteria taken into account were easily accessible parking, the ability to accommodate tourist buses and accessible toilets for people with disabilities. Szynal noted that the current bedroom office had been considered, but it would have been difficult to work with a lack of space.

To facilitate the move and fund minor renovations, the Chamber of Commerce received a $ 27,800 destination development capital grant in July. Most of this grant will go to signs that will direct people to the visitor center.

As the chamber prepares to move, Szynal said the plans have been well received by his partners, even as he leaves county seat.

“Overwhelmingly, the feedback has been very positive,” Szynal said. “Greenfield will be missed. “

Community Action Pioneer Valley, which is located next to the chamber, will expand into the soon-to-be-vacant space.

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