WILTON — Newly formed Wilton Group invites community members to its second informational gathering, an open house planned from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17. The event will be  hosted by Damon Photography and takes place at its studio at 319 Main St.

A presentation takes place at 5 p.m., but people are welcome to attend at any time to learn about the group.

The group was formed to bring together people, businesses and organizations in Wilton to work toward stimulating more interest in community-based involvement, supporting local businesses, attracting new businesses and projecting a positive image of the town and region. An initial meeting held early in November drew more than 40 people representing community members, town officials and businesses. There was much enthusiasm, member Susan Atwood said.

“It’s a community group with a focus on business,” she said.

One thing many say they want to see is more businesses in the town that now boasts between 125-150 businesses. The problem is “we don’t know each other.”

“If we want new businesses in town, we need to project, in a variety of ways, a united community where business owners know each other and what they do,” she said.

It’s something that will take a variety of community members to help create, Atwood added.

The group has already begun seeing interest with more than 700 people becoming friends of the Wilton Group on a Facebook page within five days. This is something that she hopes will help attract younger families who are raising their children here and are willing to commit to pull together as a united community.

“Wilton is one of the best kept secrets in all of Franklin County,” she said, something the group hopes to change.

Since an initial breakfast meeting in November, the group has formed an interim board and started working on an outline of a long-range strategic plan. A survey to gather information and feedback from Wilton businesses has been started with a citizen/community-oriented survey planned next.

A formal board of interested community members will be appointed on Dec. 28 then they will meet in January with Mark Hews of Threshold of Maine, who will help them revise a strategic plan from which they can devise committees and start projects including any necessary fundraising.

Community members are needed for a variety of things, everything from helping to raise funds to maintaining a Web site, she said.

The group has already started designing a Web site that will highlight community events, resources and businesses. She would like to see every town business listed on the Web site with links to their own site if they have them.

“We want to polish up our image. We’re special and we want to project that image,” Atwood said.

The group includes the whole municipality of Wilton including East Wilton, East Dixfield and Dryden. It is not limited to a “downtown or business group.”

It also hopes to bring in other area groups such as the Tyngtown Club, Lions Club and Boys Scouts.

They would also like to work on a “buy local” campaign. They urge people to spend 10 percent of their disposable income locally, she said.

For more information about Thursday’s event, contact Atwood at 645-3721.

[email protected]

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