hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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April 7, 2011

'Creative Haverhill' group's mission: Lure visitors downtown

New group encourages businesses to participate in tourist events.

Local businesses are looking to invest in Haverhill's "creative economy."

More than a dozen downtown business owners gathered last week at the Tap restaurant for a informational breakfast meeting with the newly formed Creative Haverhill organization.

David Zoffoli, director of Creative Haverhill, said the organization will focus on luring out-of-town people to the city for free events and encourage return visits by finding ways to continue such events.

"Creative Haverhill is a 10-month project that uses art and culture to help jump start the economy," Zoffoli said. "Creative Haverhill is going to create a 'quality of place.'"

Creative Haverhill consists of city officials and several local organizations: The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, the Haverhill Cultural Council, Team Haverhill and Haverhill's Cultural Treasures. Creative Haverhill came together earlier this year to secure a $40,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Events planned include Team Haverhill's second annual River Ruckus celebration along the Merrimack River, the Chamber of Commerce's Kidsfest and Creative Haverhill's "Make Some Noise" summer concert series.

Other contributions to the cause include new art, such as Team Haverhill's mural of well-known city people on the side of a downtown Essex Street building.

For Creative Haverhill to succeed, Zoffoli said business must get involved. Organizers estimated 8,000 to 10,000 potential customers will be at each event.

"It's really important to be on the street with us," Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Diane McDermott said of the need for businesses to join in.

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