Back before she moved to Rutland, Jeanette Langston walked into the Hop’n Moose, approached a man and asked if he was Steve Costello.
Langston was in town for a Stay-to-Stay weekend and was supposed to meet Costello as part of the effort to convince her to relocate to Rutland. The man she approached told her he wasn’t Costello, but he was there to meet her and that he was Mayor David Allaire.
“I thought he was joking, and I started laughing,” Langston said Thursday after Lyle Jepson, executive director of Chamber and Economic Development of the Rutland Region (CEDRR), asked her to confirm the story. He said ‘I’m Dave, Dave the mayor.’ I said “OK, Dave.’ He was serious.”
Langston and her family moved to Rutland in spring 2019 and settled in quickly. Now she serves as one of the concierges for the regional marketing campaign, helping smooth the way for new families coming to the area the same way was done for her. Langston, Jepson and other organizers and backers were at Southside Steakhouse Thursday to launch the campaign’s post-COVID efforts and mark its midpoint.
Jepson noted that the regional marketing campaign was conceived as a 10-year plan.
“We’re now entering year five,” he said. “Our statistics are looking pretty good ... but it is a slow effort. It’s like hitting singles in a baseball game.”
Organizers said the concierge program has netted 30 families for the region since it launched in 2018. Campaign co-Chair Mary Ann Goulette said that pace could pick up with people nationwide showing interest in Vermont because of how the state weathered the pandemic.
“Vermont is definitely on the map, and now we just need to find Rutland County,” she said.
Jepson said with the latest phase of the campaign, the website had been redesigned with a focus on the specific jobs available in Rutland. He said digital advertising allows them to hyper-focus their efforts.
“You can really target the 45-year-old woman who happens to have a nursing degree.” he said.
Once the digital tools have gotten people’s attention, Langston said the personal touch is what is likely to hook them — much as it hooked her.
“My husband and I have been married 20 years, and we’ve moved across the country several times,” she said. “We know what it’s like to be the new person. ... We’ve never felt more accepted, more welcome, more supported by a community than we have here.”
Organizer Steve Costello said four of five prospective families are expected to attend a meet-and-greet scheduled for next week.
“For 18 months, we couldn’t meet people in person,” he said. “A big part of the magic is an event like this where someone from out-of-state meets 25 to 30 people in quick succession.”
Costello said the format instantly creates a social circle for the newcomers.
“It’s really bizarre how this stuff works,” he said. “It’s incremental, but it builds on the pieces before it.”