Small Town Love could spread to Hazeltons

Hazelton area municipalities have applied to join the Small Town Love program, which creates web profiles for independent businesses.

The Small Town Love program, which creates web profiles for independent businesses in northern communities, could be spreading the love to the Hazeltons after local municipalities applied to join.

In December, the District of New Hazelton and Village of Hazelton submitted a joint application to the Northern Development Initiative Trust, which runs the program, requesting to join 17 other communities enrolled in the program.

Small Town Love, which has already been established in Smithers and Telkwa, is a marketing campaign aimed at connecting people with independent, locally-owned businesses in small communities.

Participating communities have their own websites, such as Love Smithers, with a directory of local businesses who pay $100 to be profiled.

Each profile prepared through the program consists of a personalized story about the owner and professional photographs of people who work at the business.

Northern Development Initiative Trust director of business development Renata King said the program provided a marketing approach that appealed to northern communities.

“The whole premise of Small Town Love makes people feel good and in small communities people do love their town,” King said.

“It’s a way to showcase that.”

As well as providing a web presence, the program aims to provide businesses with online marketing know-how.

Another benefit, King said, is that the websites played a role in attracting new residents and business owners to the communities.

“The more attractive we make these communities, the more appealing they are, the more unique kinds of experiences and stories that people hear about the small towns, the more likely they are to give it some consideration in terms of locating here,” she said.

“Love the Hazeltons,”, as the website would be known, would cover businesses within both municipalities.

Village of Hazelton chief administrative officer Tanalee Hesse said the program’s success in other communities had inspired the village to apply to join.

“It’s a cost-effective way of raising awareness about the businesses,” Hesse said.

“It’s a very nice-looking website and it showcases the businesses in an attractive way and I think it is just one more thing that we could do to raise awareness of the businesses in our area.”

District of New Hazelton chief administrative officer Wendy Hunt agreed it was a cost-effective way for small business owners to showcase what they do.

“It is our hope that local businesses in the Hazeltons will use this program to remind residents and visitors of the wide variety of home-based and small businesses that make up the Hazeltons,” Hunt said.