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Grants will help mission of North Fork Creative Coalition

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The North Fork Valley Creative Coalition (NFVCC) has been awarded two grants for projects to be completed in 2017 from the Colorado Tourism Office and the Orton Family Foundation.

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) awarded NFVCC $25,000 through its 2017 Marketing Matching Grant Program for the purpose of promoting the region as a tourism destination. The grant is competitive and was awarded to 30 nonprofits in Colorado this year.

NFVCC is partnering with 10 local nonprofit organizations and businesses to promote the North Fork Valley and events in the upcoming 2017 season. The partnering organizations include Blue Sage Center for the Arts, Cirque Cyclery, Creamery Arts Center, Elsewhere Studios, Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce, Mountain Harvest Festival, Paonia Chamber of Commerce, Pickin' Productions and The Learning Council. Each organization has committed a portion of its annual marketing budget to match the CTO funds. For every $1 the organization allocates to the program, the Colorado Tourism Office will provide $1 in matching funds.

NFVCC is working with local graphic designers and writers to design collaborative print, online and broadcast media ads in such publications as the NFV Visitor's Guide, the VOGA directory, Lovin' Local Guide, Edible Aspen and Edible Southwest. It is also working with internet experts to improve the functionality of the organizations' websites and improve internet searches for local events and activities.

The goal of the grant is to increase awareness of the NFV offerings for Colorado residents and visitors to the state seeking a unique experience offered in NFV's rural small towns -- from farm-to-table dinners to the creative arts and festivals taking place here.

In the second grant the Orton Family Foundation awarded $5,000 to NFVCC to continue to build on the significant findings of the Heart & Soul project that surveyed over 1,300 residents of the three towns of Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford in 2012-14. These municipalities and local chambers of commerce recognized their economic futures lie in working together and cultivating interest in the assets of the entire valley. In a series of conversations, called North Fork Vision 2020, citizens identified opportunities to discuss and emphasize their collective strengths and to market a North Fork experience aimed at improving the waning economy of the valley.

The 2017 grant awarded to NFVCC will fund 10 community focus groups, which will meet to identify and map the North Fork's tremendous cultural and environmental assets. The goals of these mapping activities are to identify and translate the values of a tri-town community into a shared vision that will drive our unique economic development and provide a framework for effective decision-making. The community asset maps that are produced will provide a visual catalog of the assets our community holds dear and reflect the rich holdings of the valley for local residents and visitors. These asset maps will be circulated throughout the community, to citizens and local/state government officials, and to future funders to identify NFV strengths and help unify the community as it finds a path to a strong, sustainable future.

For more information, write nfvcreativecoalition@gmail.com or call Susie Kaldis Lowe at 970-275-3453.

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