June 14th, 2014
By Ray Lamont
The Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce has received another key green light for its Cape Ann license plate benefit project, thanks to the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The RMV has notified the chamber that the design, created by Rockport graphics artist Annalei Babson and chosen by chamber officials based on public balloting during a Cruiseport Gloucester reception that drew more than 200 people, meets the agency’s size and space requirements to fit on a state license plate the chamber hopes to have issued sometime next year.
The approval of the design — which includes panels representing Cape Ann’s four communities, the letters CA for Cape Ann, the chamber website and an artist’s palette to recognize the arts community’s role in Gloucester and all three towns — means the chamber can now fully market Babson’s design in drawing applications for the plates. Each license plate sells for $40, with a portion of that cost going toward a chamber nonprofit foundation that can then distribute money to the city and three towns for community promotion, education or other use.
“It’s great news,” said Executive Director Ken Riehl, who took the reins of the chamber last November and resurrected a project that had been started and then set aside last fall.
Riehl said the RMV did not make any changes to the design the chamber submitted, though any final tweaks could still come from 3M — the RMV’s contractor that would actually manufacture the plates.
“I was expecting they might to do something, but they didn’t change anything at all,” Riehl said of the RMV, whose plate gurus generally deal with the size of any such plate designs and images.
“We’re kind of close in some of the margins,” Riehl conceded, adding that the Chamber had slightly diminished the size of the “CA” to better emphasize the design itself. “I think the graphics are going to be fine; it’s merely the size and placement (of the images) on the plate itself. It’s the color and the overall graphic nature of the design that makes it stand out.”
With the design now ready to move forward, Riehl said that gives the chamber the chance to step up its marketing of the plates as well.
He said the chamber has thus far received more than 200 applications — with payment. Many of them came off a flier that recently ran inside the Times. The chamber has also marketed through the Times’ 2014 Cape Ann Summer Guide, and through its own publications and online.
Beginning next week, Riehl said, the chamber will more actively reach out to its business members, with plate applications and other materials.
In accordance with RMV guidelines, the chamber must pre-sell at least 1,500 of the plates, with payment for the $40 cost before the registry will commission 3M to actually make them.
The chamber would then be required to forward to the RMV the checks covering the 1,500 plates — and $100,000 bond, Riehl said. In that vein, Riehl said the chamber is really setting out with a goal of pre-selling 3,000 plates, which would eliminate the need for a bond.
And he indicated that he believes the goal is attainable.
“We’re getting a lot of expressions of interest,” he said, citing the 200-plus sales in just over two weeks.
The plate’s design — also featured on the chamber website at capeannchamber.com — features four panels showing Gloucester’s Man At the Wheel statue, Rockport’s Motif No. 1, sailing schooners as representative of Essex, and the Tuck’s Point Rotunda as a symbol from Manchester.
The plate also includes the Web address MyCapeAnn.com, a website run by the chamber, across the bottom, with an artist’s palette alongside.
Times Editor Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.