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This week at our first mixer up in the Northshire, we were able to unveil to the public a big media announcement. In partnership with the New England Newspapers company — Publishers of The Bennington Banner, The Manchester Journal, The Berkshire Eagle and The Brattleboro Reformer — we are excited to launch the Shires of Vermont mobile app for travel and tourism: "GOshires VT." The app is now available in the Apple store, as well as Google Play.

New England Newspapers approached the Chamber about three months ago with the idea that they would be developing an exhaustive mobile app that would help tourists find where to eat, sleep, play and visit. This was great news as we felt that a mobile app for this region is absolutely necessary, but the Chamber alone didn't have the "bandwidth" to pull it off.

As of last year, the people around the world spent 50 percent of their digital time on their smartphones. As a Chamber, even though we love our new regional Visitors Guide, we know the days of guidebooks, maps, and other printed material are numbered and mobile apps, especially in the tourism and travel industry, will become more prevalent and functional. The idea that New England Newspapers approached us with the concept for the GOshires VT app was a perfect match for all of us. The newspapers' ability to constantly manage and fuel the app with content is huge. Our ability to work with members to promote the app and in turn help visitors to the area download the app is our strength.

In partnership with the Shires of Vermont Regional Marketing Organization (RMO), both our organizations pulled together finances to become the official sponsors of this app. New England Newspaper will handle the development, content management and ongoing advances for the app.

We will be putting a big marketing push over the remaining summers months into the fall to have visitors download the app. Take a moment right now to go to your app store and download the app. It includes event listings, dining establishments, lodging, nightlife, recreation, culture, outdoor, shopping, fitness, and deals. As with most technology the Chamber, the RMO and the newspaper are constantly working on the app to debug, enhance and improve the user experience. The newspaper's digital operations team will be responsible for business listing info; they have also hired calendar clerks to handle the events section and their newsroom will also help with content creation. Please be patient. If you do have issues or recommendations please email:

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The other great thing is that because we have partnered with both the Newspaper and RMO all businesses in the Shires of Vermont — Manchester and the mountains to Bennington and the valleys — will be located on the app no matter if you are a Chamber member or not. You can also submit content too. A perk for Chamber members is discounts on advertising opportunities — 50 percent off the rate card — and other elements of the app as they become available.

For more information about the app please contact Susan Plaisance at

Most importantly, download the app, share with friends and visitors and let's keep going onward.

— Matt Harrington is the executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.


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