Chamber of Commerce relocating to Historic Deerfield

  • Diana Szynal, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, in front of the Museum Gift Shop and Bookstore in Old Deerfield where the chamber will relocate. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Diana Szynal, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, outside the chamber’s new location behind the Museum Gift Shop and Bookstore in Old Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Diana Szynal, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, inside the chamber’s new location behind the Museum Gift Shop and Bookstore in Old Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce will relocate to Old Deerfield from Main Street in Greenfield. The chamber will be located on the left behind the Museum Gift Shop and Bookstore. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/9/2022 11:10:33 PM
Modified: 1/9/2022 11:09:41 PM

DEERFIELD — After 36 years on Main Street in Greenfield, the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is moving to Historic Deerfield to establish a new, expanded visitors center for the region.

As travel brings millions of dollars to Franklin County every year, the Chamber of Commerce is seeking to capture the attention of tourists who visit the area and encourage them to spend more time and money in the region.

There is no set date for the opening of the visitors center, which is located at 79 Old Main St. in Old Deerfield, but the chamber’s Executive Director Diana Szynal said a mid-January opening is expected.

Szynal said an upgraded visitors center at Historic Deerfield can showcase all of the recreational and tourist opportunities in the county. The chamber’s current visitors center is a desk at Greenfield’s Registry of Motor Vehicles, which Szynal described as inadequate for a regional visitors center. She added the pandemic has also moved the RMV toward an appointment-only basis, further limiting opportunities for the visitors center.

“We felt like we were missing an opportunity to inspire them to stay in Franklin County or return to Franklin County. … That’s what a visitors center should do,” Szynal said during an interview in her office. “We are really happy to be partnering with them.”

She said tourism is a vital part of Franklin County’s economy — tourists spent $67.5 million in 2019, according to a state report — and an effective visitors center could encourage more people to revisit the county and stay overnight.

“Visitors and tourists really contribute a lot to the economy,” Szynal said. “Therefore, we need to capture as many as we can.”

Szynal said the move to Deerfield is “mutually beneficial” for both Historic Deerfield and the chamber. She added the museum, as well as Yankee Candle and Tree House Brewing, bring a “lot of tourists in that Deerfield corridor.” She also noted the new visitors center is somewhat in the center of Franklin County, which will help direct people to the “enormous amount of recreational opportunities.”

“Deerfield has really become the hub of tourism,” Szynal said. “We can let those tourists know Barton Cove is up the road. … We can direct people to Shelburne Falls. … There’s a lot going on here.”

The new visitors center is embedded inside Historic Deerfield’s museum store and has enough space for Szynal and her staff to highlight specific seasonal events such as the Green River Festival or CiderDays, while also allowing staff to work directly with the public.

“It will give us the opportunity to personally interact with visitors, which we haven’t had before,” she said. “It’s set up for a visitors center. … Franklin County is pleasant and welcoming, and our visitors center will be as well.”

Additional planned amenities include digital screens to play videos the chamber has produced and other interactive screens that will highlight coming events.

In the multiyear search for a new location, Szynal said the chamber has left no stone unturned and Historic Deerfield provided the best opportunity. She added the most important criteria considered was easily accessible parking, the ability to receive buses of tourists and handicapped-accessible bathrooms. Szynal noted the chamber’s current office was considered, but a lack of space would have been difficult to work with.

To facilitate the move and fund minor renovations, the Chamber of Commerce received a $27,800 Destination Development Capital grant in July. Most of that grant will go toward signs that will direct people to the visitors center.

As the chamber prepares for its move, Szynal said the plans have been well received by its partners, even as it moves out of the county seat.

“Overwhelmingly, the feedback has been very positive,” Szynal said. “We’re going to miss Greenfield.”

Community Action Pioneer Valley, which is located next door to the chamber, will expand into the soon-to-be vacant space.


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