Latest on WREN


WREN Acquires NH Grand Program
Increasing Rural Economic Development Opportunities Across the Region 

Northern New Hampshire’s tourism economy has just gotten a boost as the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN) has acquired the New Hampshire Grand program, NHGrand.com.

NHGrand.com is a web-based portal (nhgrand.com) providing visitors to northern New Hampshire, with seasonal information on events and activities, including a calendar of events, a monthly e-newsletter, and a series of itineraries that feature things to see and do during a day trip, weekend, or long vacation in the region, including hiking, fishing, biking, ATVing, skiing, snowmobiling, shopping and much more. Since its inception a decade ago (operating under the umbrella of NCIC, the Northern Community Investment Corporation), NHGrand.com has grown to become the go-to source for visitor information and has broad brand recognition throughout New England with its website generating over 50,000 hits last year (a year when the website was mostly inactive).

Initially, the NH Grand program was developed in response to the economic downturn in the northern New Hampshire economy following the closure of the region’s paper mills, once its prime industry. NH Grand provided businesses with a group marketing initiative with an array of marketing services, such as advertisements in national and regional publications and in e-newsletters and social media posts. The initial focus was on towns in Coös County, from Twin Mountain to Pittsburg.

“Both NH Grand, and WREN, which was founded in 1994, have focused on providing economic development opportunities across the region,” said Pam Sullivan, the Executive Director of WREN. “When NH Grand took a hiatus last year to regroup, and approached WREN to assume the NH Grand assets, the WREN board of directors saw this as an opportunity for WREN’s members to benefit from NH Grand’s brand recognition, and for tourism-based businesses across northern New Hampshire to become more engaged with WREN. Artists and craftspeople exhibiting their work at the WREN Gallery and in its Local Works Main Street store in Bethlehem, could also benefit from the increased exposure to the NH Grand market, including states throughout New England and beyond. Acquiring the NH Grand assets allows WREN to more effectively enter the tourism market, the number one industry in the North Country economy and number two industry statewide.”

WREN has expanded NH Grand to include Franconia, Bethlehem and Littleton and has changed NHGrand.com’s structure. “Anyone who is part of the tourism economy from Franconia north will now have access to increased marketing visibility through the NHGrand.com web, email and social media platforms,” said Sullivan. “And if they join WREN’s Business Membership Program, they will also be able to take advantage of the many programs that WREN offers, including business/hospitality training, displaying their rack cards at WREN, free or reduced fee classes and workshops, and eligibility for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).”

Additionally, WREN will share NHGrand.com activities and events through WREN’s social media. And NHGrand.com will promote WREN’s activities on its calendar of events and social media platforms. “Promoting one another’s assets,” said Sullivan, “increases visibility for both as we work to promote the region’s tourism economy.”


WREN Announces Pam Sullivan as New Executive Director

The Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN) announced that Pam Sullivan has been chosen as Executive Director of WREN. Ms. Sullivan brings more than 30 years of business management, fundraising, and strategic marketing experience serving as the founder, president, and creative director of Sullivan Creative. Headquartered in Concord, Sullivan Creative has been in business for 33 years and has received numerous awards for creative, communication and design excellence, including the prestigious Direct Marketing Association’s ECHO Award. Sullivan will continue to manage the firm on a part-time basis.

Sullivan has managed and marketed numerous art/craft exhibits, tourist events, and conferences. She has also worked with nonprofits in securing grants and sponsorships, and in 2017 acted as the contract Executive Director for Las Artistas, a nonprofit arts organization in El Paso, TX. She has also served as the lead consultant for the NH Grand program. Sullivan will be responsible for the overall management of WREN including budgeting, marketing, programming, strategic partnerships and grant compliance.

”We are very excited Pam accepted the Executive Director position,” commented Mary Secor, president, WREN Board of Directors. “She has demonstrated exceptional commitment, enthusiasm, and dedication to WREN, and her expertise and can-do attitude will be an asset to the entire organization. She is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead, and her experience working with small businesses, nonprofit organizations, chambers of commerce, destination marketing organizations, and arts and cultural organizations, such as the League of NH Craftsmen, will help WREN create valuable benefits and networking opportunities for WREN business members and entrepreneurs.”

WREN was founded 25 years ago, powered by rural women seeking better lives and livelihoods. WREN’s work has impacted thousands of people across New Hampshire’s North Country providing technical assistance training and market access for local entrepreneurs and artists. In addition to securing grant funding from a number of regional funders, WREN drew financial support from the Ms. Foundation, the Aspen Institute, USDA/Rural Development and HUD. WREN also gained recognition within the national microenterprise development sector for its innovative efforts in addressing the needs of rural entrepreneurs.

The Local Works Marketplace and The Gallery at WREN has played a significant role in revitalizing the town of Bethlehem by providing educational and community programming and events for the entire region.

Sullivan recently bought a house and moved fulltime to Bethlehem where she lives with her husband, Lee Richmond. WREN will be organizing a meet and greet to provide WREN members an opportunity to meet her and hear plans for 2020, including the introduction of the new HUB at WREN program.

WREN Announces the Launch of The HUB at WREN

Innovation and community: how do they go hand in hand? For WREN, the answer this season is The HUB, a new community work space within The Gallery at WREN in Bethlehem Village.

This vibrant community space is available to all participants in WREN’s new membership programs, as well as non-members looking to experience The HUB before they commit to a membership, and day visitors just passing through town. Amenities within The HUB include high speed wireless internet, printers, a small kitchen area, and an inviting meeting space available by reservation.  In addition to these offerings, The HUB will also play host to rotating monthly programming, including workshops, lunch meet-ups, one-on-one opportunities with business advisors and mentors, and local networking events.

The concept of The HUB came to fruition during WREN’s 2019 Reimagining Initiative, in which the WREN Board of Directors collected information from WREN stakeholders and community members regarding the future of the organization. Through surveys, public outreach sessions, and a two-day visioning workshop, one clear theme emerged: participants wanted a space in the North Country that would offer networking spaces and technical assistance programs for the community, as well as guidance and market access for emerging entrepreneurs, artists, and makers who were seeking to develop and grow their business. The HUB represents WREN’s commitment to the community and to reinventing itself as a sustainable organization that will support better lives and livelihoods, enhance the vitality of Bethlehem’s Main Street, and practice and promote innovation in rural economic development.

The HUB, located at 2013 Main Street, is open Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm and Saturday through Sunday, 11am-5pm. WREN members will have unlimited access to The HUB during operating hours, while HUB Day ($10) and HUB 7-Day ($30) passes are available for purchase at Local Works Marketplace at WREN.


WREN Announces Pam Sullivan as New Executive Director

The Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN) announced that Pam Sullivan has been chosen as Executive Director of WREN. Ms. Sullivan brings more than 30 years of business management, fundraising, and strategic marketing experience serving as the founder, president, and creative director of Sullivan Creative. Headquartered in Concord, Sullivan Creative has been in business for 33 years and has received numerous awards for creative, communication and design excellence, including the prestigious Direct Marketing Association’s ECHO Award. Sullivan will continue to manage the firm on a part-time basis.

Sullivan has managed and marketed numerous art/craft exhibits, tourist events, and conferences. She has also worked with nonprofits in securing grants and sponsorships, and in 2017 acted as the contract Executive Director for Las Artistas, a nonprofit arts organization in El Paso, TX. She has also served as the lead consultant for the NH Grand program. Sullivan will be responsible for the overall management of WREN including budgeting, marketing, programming, strategic partnerships and grant compliance.

”We are very excited Pam accepted the Executive Director position,” commented Mary Secor, president, WREN Board of Directors. “She has demonstrated exceptional commitment, enthusiasm, and dedication to WREN, and her expertise and can-do attitude will be an asset to the entire organization. She is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead, and her experience working with small businesses, nonprofit organizations, chambers of commerce, destination marketing organizations, and arts and cultural organizations, such as the League of NH Craftsmen, will help WREN create valuable benefits and networking opportunities for WREN business members and entrepreneurs.”

WREN was founded 25 years ago, powered by rural women seeking better lives and livelihoods. WREN’s work has impacted thousands of people across New Hampshire’s North Country providing technical assistance training and market access for local entrepreneurs and artists. In addition to securing grant funding from a number of regional funders, WREN drew financial support from the Ms. Foundation, the Aspen Institute, USDA/Rural Development and HUD. WREN also gained recognition within the national microenterprise development sector for its innovative efforts in addressing the needs of rural entrepreneurs.

The Local Works Marketplace and The Gallery at WREN has played a significant role in revitalizing the town of Bethlehem by providing educational and community programming and events for the entire region.

Sullivan recently bought a house and moved fulltime to Bethlehem where she lives with her husband, Lee Richmond. WREN will be organizing a meet and greet to provide WREN members an opportunity to meet her and hear plans for 2020, including the introduction of the new HUB at WREN program.


WREN Celebrated First Friday with the Opening of “Where Land Meets Sky”

The Gallery at WREN in Bethlehem celebrated the opening of “Where Land Meets Sky” on Friday Evening September 6th. Pictured here from (l to r) artist Gisele Thompson, Gallery Manager Katherine Ferrier, artist Michele Johnson, and sponsor Carol Walker, from Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank, a long-time supporter of WREN and its artists.

2019 marks the 25th anniversary of WREN, a nationally recognized not-for-profit in Bethlehem that provides and supports strategies for entrepreneurial development, access to markets, Main Street revitalization, and rural economic development.

Established in 2001, The Gallery at WREN sets the standard for fine art galleries in the North Country, and serves as a cultural outlet for the creative expression of a community, where the public can gather to en- joy, learn about and appreciate art. The Gallery was the original catalyst for Bethlehem’s First Friday events on Main Street back in 2012. In addition to monthly Meet the Artist receptions during First Friday, the Gallery hosts a variety of events throughout the year including artist talks, demonstrations, slideshows, and workshops, all aimed at directly engaging the community with art and art-making.


Time to Shop: Re-imagined WREN Reopens in Beautiful Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM – WREN (Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network) is out of hibernation. This past winter, the organization, which was founded in 1994, closed its doors on December 31, 2018.

This spring, when WREN came out of a winter’s torpor, moving at a thoughtful pace to full steam ahead, the small staff, along with new members on the board of directors, the local businesses and artisan community, re-imagined the organization.

On June 21 the store and gallery opened in its original location at 2013 Main Street in Bethlehem. Mary Secor, new to the board of directors and Laura Barrington, WREN’s store and gallery manager, were on hand to tell of new plans, new programs and a new outlook.

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The WREN Board and current staff continue to move the organization forward. Following a period of reflection and engagement with our members and partners this past winter, WREN has begun a measured and thoughtful reemergence. All of our efforts and investments will actively uphold our founding mission of supporting better lives and livelihoods, while embracing the needs and desires of the next generation of WREN members. PLEASE NOTE: We have extended all current memberships without charge through the end of 2019. 

We continue to offer support and opportunities for those wanting to start or grow their businesses. Check out our classes scheduled through early summer on our Classes & Events page. We continue to offer no cost business development support to income eligible emerging and established business owners living in New Hampshire. For example, a single person residing in Grafton County qualifies if her/his household income is at or below $40,900. For more info, contact katyc@wrenworks.org. In late June, our Main Street Bethlehem retail store reopened, providing a marketplace for nearly one hundred WREN members and contributing to the growing vitality of Bethlehem's Main Street..

2019 marks WREN’s 25th year. We began in 1994 with twelve bold and resourceful women working to create opportunities for themselves and others. We continue that work today. We hope you will join us in celebrating all that WREN has done and will do in the years ahead!