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New Marlborough initiative encourages residents to eat local

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – With money from the city’s local meals tax being used to build and repair athletic fields, the Marlborough Economic Development Corp. through a new initiative is encouraging residents to dine locally.

Last December, the City Council voted to institute a .75 percent tax on meals served in city restaurants and established a special account for the money, which will be used for recreation and field projects. The tax is expected to pull in about $750,000 a year.

The economic agency launched its Dine Local initiative this spring and recently completed a Dine Local Challenge that allowed residents to collect stickers after eating at 11 different city restaurants, including Allora, Chez Siam Restaurant and Firefly’s and be eligible for a grand prize of over $1,000 in restaurant gift cards.

“It’s an awareness campaign,” said Debra Williams, coordinator of the Dine Local initiative. “We feel like we’re doing our job by making people aware. We’re starting to get the word out there.”

More than 400 people participated in the Dine Local Challenge, a number Williams said is very encouraging.

“We thought that was pretty impressive,” said Williams. “We feel like we’re targeting our residents to make sure they know it’s going to their fields and recreational areas.”

Williams said mailings were sent to 3,500 residents alerting them that recreation projects are linked to the local meals tax.

Williams said it is difficult to determine if more residents are eating out at city restaurants since the program began, but she expects the economic agency will begin tracking local trends through the revenue raised from the meals tax.

Dine Local will feature other creative contests.

“We hope to continue running similar campaigns in the new year,” said Williams.

One of the projects is a proposed new athletic complex at Whitcomb Middle School, which includes a synthetic athletic field, four-lane track and new bleachers. The bond payments for the project would be about $350,000 per year.

For more information on the Dine Local initiative visit www.visit-marlborough.com.

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.