Members of Successful Women Inspiring Forward Thinking (SWIFT) have had a lot to do with getting 25 baskets, which will soon be filled with a variety of flowers and hanging on hooks on Main and Market Streets.
Ann Langille, owner of The Moss Pot in Liverpool, tried to “get the ball rolling,” in other years, says Taryn Jollimore. The ball started rolling again when SWIFT started having regular weekly meetings in the new year.
Meetings have involved the businesswomen discussing how to promote themselves, collaborate and be more successful.
Jollimore says she tried to start SWIFT a few years ago, but it “fizzled out.”
In January, things got going again.
“I restarted it after the Collaborative Strategies meeting that the Region (of Queens) put on,” she says.
Kelly emailed a number of people and suggested they meet for coffee to continue the conversation, explains Jollimore.
Collaborative Strategies for Business and Community Development was a workshop held in January. The Region of Queens worked with the Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.
Phaedra Charleton-Huskins, economic development officer for the Region of Queens, says a call was put out to the community so people could gather to talk about ways of moving forward.
There was a lot of energy and willingness to see the community grow, says Charleton-Huskins abou the workshop.
Jollimore emphasizes SWIFT is not an official group, and says its members want action and not just talk.
As for the hanging baskets, the group decided they would be a good first project.
“We believed it would both beautify the town and hopefully contribute to overall business,” she says.
It really came down to improving the downtown experience, but it’s also a sense of pride for businesses, adds Jollimore.
“We (business owners) are here everyday; coming to a bleak empty downtown is kind of depressing,” she says. “Coming to a place with beautiful hanging baskets that hopefully has more people just walking around, milling about, is going to improve morale as well as business.”
The flower baskets will be about three feet wide and four to five feet long from the top of the hanger.
“They will be high enough that they’ll be out of harm’s way, but they’ll be not so high that you won’t see them,” says Jollimore.
SWIFT’s plan is to have the baskets hanging on Main Street and Market Street up to the bridge. Where exactly the baskets will be on Main Street has not been finalized. Jollimore says the baskets will cover the downtown core.
If the hanging baskets are successful, Jollimore says SWIFT would like to continue in future years. She says they would even like to expand the number of baskets and businesses involved.
“We got to a point where we had to figure it out because we had to order them because they need to plant them so they can grow in time,” says Jollimore.
The Region of Queens council discussed SWIFT’s motion for hanging baskets at its Committee of the Whole meeting on April 10. The discussion revolved around a number of things, including time and cost.
Sheldon Brannon, councillor for the Region of Queens, says council was initially concerned because it lacked information about the project. Councillors therefore agreed to table the motion.
Council called a special Committee of the Whole meeting following its regular meeting on April 16.
“Committee of the Whole found a solution in the end that we were all willing to support,” says Brannon.
Council then reconvened its regular meeting to make and pass the motion through council.
Brannon says he thinks it’s great the group of businesses came together for a common goal.
“To see more than 20 businesses agree to participate in something is not exactly usual in Liverpool lately,” says Brannon. “It’s been hard to get a group of businesses on board to do something.”
He adds it’s a step of many that need to be taken. Brannon says the community needs to do as much as it can to encourage people to shop and do business in Queens County.
SWIFT is happy about the way things have gone. The Region of Queens is giving a $3,000 grant for the project.
“We’re all pleased that we’ve made a step forward, and that it’s going to improve the town for all of us as businesses and all of us as residents,” says Jollimore.