March 31, 2014
Depicting Cape Ann: License plate ‘finalists’ on tap for chamber showcase
License plate ‘finalists’ on tap for chamber showcase
By Ray Lamont
—- — Some spotlight Gloucester’s iconic Man at the Wheel at the Fishermen’s Memorial.
Others depict fishing boats, sailing boats, old-time schooners or all of the above.
Some show fish, lobsters and/or breaching whales, while at least one includes small scenes touching on all four of Cape Ann’s communities.
All of those elements and many more are showcased on the backdrop of a license plate — a potential Cape Ann license plate proposed by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce as a fundraiser boosting chamber programs while also providing education and other grants for local communities.
The chamber, in fact, received more than 85 potential plate designs, says chamber CEO Ken Riehl, with the top five of them due to be showcased for the public at a free and open reception set for Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on the lower level of Cruiseport Gloucester.
The artists who have submitted potential designs for the proposed Cape Ann license plate are not only doing so to display their own Cape Ann pride. The artist whose design is ultimately chosen for the plate will win a $1,000 prize, once the plate is complete, with two runner-up prizes of $250 each being offered as well. The winning design will be chosen with input from those who attend Thursday night’s reception, said Riehl, who said the event will also include an update regarding the project around 5 p.m.
“The response has been great — especially recently,” Riehl said. “We’ve received more than 50 designs in the last month. This has been just the kind of impetus and momentum we’ve been hoping for.”
Chamber officials have been whittling down the entries to the handful of finalists that will be on display Thursday night, with Realtor Ruth Pino, a former chamber president, serving as project leader and the chamber’s committees taking part in narrowing down the field.
After Thursday’s event, Riehl said, the chamber hopes to quickly decide on the winning design, which must be submitted to — and approved by — the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. The RMV would then commission its contractor — 3M — to create the plates, once the chamber can show that it has presold 1,500 of the plates. The license plates run for $40 apiece, on top of the Registry’s annual registration fee and a $20 RMV transfer fee.
Riehl said he hopes that the chamber can launch its presale with the approved design by sometime in May.
“We’re already receiving requests for the plates,” said Riehl, who noted that the chamber has launched a sign-up list that will also be available Thursday night. “Once the registry approves (the design), then we’ll start our presale — and then we keep going forward.”
The project, which will generate money for a chamber-led foundation created specifically for the license plate revenues‚ is aimed not only as a benefit for the chamber, but primarily for the communities of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester. The money, based on a similar program that has raised well over $1 million for communities on Cape Cod, would be extended through grants for marketing, for school programs or for other services.
“The bottom line is that isn’t just a chamber project, it’s a community project,” Riehl said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Anyone wishing to attend the event or express interest in purchasing a Cape Ann license plate may obtain more information by visiting www.capeannchamber.com or by calling the chamber at 978-283-1601.
Times Editor Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705.