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Trail Town summit set

By Staff | Mar 12, 2010

Representatives from Shepherdstown’s tourism and business community will be in Cumberland, Md., Monday participating in the inaugural Trail Towns Marketing Summit.

The goal, organizers say, is to gather over 100 community and business leaders from the cities, towns and villages along the C&O Canal trail and the Great Allegheny Passage trail to brainstorm marketing strategies aimed at turning trail users into customers for local businesses. The two popular trails stretch unbroken (save for the inevitable flood damage on the C&O) between Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh.

Meredith Wait, president of the Shepherdstown Business Association, Cheryl Keyrouze of the Shepherdstown Visitors Center and Lois Turco, representing the Freedom’s Run festival, are among the locals who have registered for the event.

Cathy McCollom, who oversees the Trail Towns Program, says the summit will touch on areas of tourism marketing such as broadcast, print and internet marketing and web site creation. An architect will also give a presentation on how to position storefronts for curb appeal.

McCollom wants to strengthen the ties between the trail communities and businesses. Cross-promotion of services between businesses up and down the trail could help get some trail users into local shops, restaurants and lodging, says McCollom. “We’ve cast the net wide to get these folks together not only to learn, but to network,” said McCollom by phone on Tuesday. “If we begin to think collaboratively, we can position these trails as an international asset.”

The Trail Towns Program is a special project of The Progress Fund, a non-profit lender to businesses in the travel and tourism industry. The Trail Town concept was developed by the Allegheny Trail Alliance in conjunction with The Progress Fund.

The advance registration period for the Marketing Summit ended this past Wednesday, but interested parties may still register in person at the event for $15, lunch included.

– For more information on the Trail Towns Marketing Summit call Cathy McCollom at 1 (724) 216-9160 or visit the Trail Towns web site at www.trailtowns.org.