Grinold, a local business owner and member of the Wilmington School Board, has accepted the position of executive director of Wilmington Works, the town’s downtown designation program, and a group which Grinold is excited to play a bigger part in as it continues to grow. Grinold is already a member of the nonprofit group, which received official downtown designation by the Vermont Downtown Program in spring 2013. Grinold served as the group’s designated chamber of commerce committee member on the group’s board for the past year, as well as chair of Wilmington Works’ promotions committee, before applying for the executive director position. Grinold sees Wilmington Works as a vital part of the town’s continuing recovery efforts following Tropical Storm Irene, and a group he would like to help develop.
“There are many reasons why I took this job,” said Grinold. “The most significant reason is that when I look back at what I’ve been doing in community and volunteer work, and then I read this job description, I feel that my career has guided me to a point where I really want to be the person doing this job.”
In his new capacity at Wilmington Works, Grinold will be tasked with coordinating the group’s activities as well as its committees in order to promote economic growth in the downtown area. He will also be tasked with the recruitment, administrative, and budgetary management of the group, and working with the town to achieve mutual goals. The job is a one-year contracted position, which Grinold admits creates an element of personal risk, but he is sure of his resolve as well as his abilities in helping his hometown thrive.
“This is a great opportunity,” said Grinold. “The organization is new, the board is new, and it’s a chance to build something long-lasting and develop our economy for many years to come.”
While the group is only a year old, Grinold points out the successes the group has already had. The group put together a walking tour that showcases the downtown’s eclectic architecture, held a 12-week entertainment series called 9&100 at the town’s crossroads, and brought the Arnett and Muldrow company to town to complete a branding study. Grinold said this winter’s coupon incentive was the biggest success, as an initial $5,000 donation from the Wilmington Fund VT brought in over $100,000 in sales. For every $10 a shopper spent downtown they received a $5 coupon for their next purchase, and according to Grinold, this campaign spurred a 61% increase in sales downtown in December over the previous year. Grinold believes that Wilmington Works provides a spark the town needs.
“We need to continue our urgency, focus on getting our empty spaces filled, and find ways to support efforts to bring people to the area,” said Grinold. “After the flood we had that sense of urgency and people came together and pushed through traditional barriers because they saw those piles of dirt and mud in the streets. We need to continue this urgency. The pile of mud is gone, but the urgency is still there, and Wilmington has done a tremendous job recovering from the flood because of its continued focus.”
Wilmington Works co-chair John Gannon said that Grinold will bring skill to the position. “Adam has the experience of working with the town through his time at the chamber,” said Gannon. “He knows how to navigate the town’s landscape, and work with the selectboard and town employees, and that’s key to moving this group forward.”
Gannon pointed to Grinold’s current work with Wilmington Works as a positive as well, as he is already “up to speed” on how the group is organized and run. Gannon also said Grinold’s experience in grant writing and project management would be a major help in moving forward the plans for everything from façade work to getting new streetlights.
At the chamber, Grinold’s work focused on all the valley’s towns from Wardsboro to Readsboro, and his time as executive director began just months after a natural disaster, and in the middle of the nearly snowless winter that followed. He described the job as an every-day challenge, one that he grew to love, and said his goal was always to make a concerted effort to include every town in valleywide events, and with the chamber board, strove to keep businesses together when they could have easily fallen apart.
A recent achievement Grinold takes great pride in is the raising of a local match for a USDA grant, which will usher a $115,000 marketing campaign to the valley, with an aim at bringing the whole valley under one brand.
At his new position, Grinold will be able to give his attention and energy to one place, but it is not this focus that encourages him, it’s the challenge. “It’s not the selective focus that’s attractive to me, it’s the build-something- from-the-ground up aspect.”