KINGFIELD — Community leaders in the towns of northern Franklin County hope an 82-mile driving loop that passes 10 of the highest mountains in Maine will help cement the region’s recently branded image as the Maine High Peaks.

The brand, developed by a conglomeration of Franklin County organizations, the Networks of Networks, is designed to sell the area, serving as an economic development tool that organizers hope will attract visitors and permanent residents.

“It really is viewed as a kind of cloud umbrella for the region. Nobody owns it,” said Cynthia Orcutt owner of Schoolhouse Art Gallery in Kingfield.

Members of the High Peaks Creative Council held ribbon cutting ceremonies Saturday at five kiosks in the five towns along the new High Peaks Arts and Heritage Loop. Those towns are Kingfield, Carrabasset Valley, Eustis, Rangeley and Phillips.

More than two years in the making, the loop highlights 12 natural landmarks along the way as well as 14 heritage assets and 19 arts organizations.It includes 14 road signs noting landmarks such as Daggett Rock and a variety of trails.

The loop also includes an interactive website that shows attractions along the loop as well as an interactive map and videos. The website includes a regional calendar of events and free directory for businesses to market their events.

“I believe that building a public connection to the region’s history and arts strengthens the unique identity of our community, and that was really the driving force behind this whole project,” said Saskia Reinhold, coordinator of the High Peaks Creative Council.

The creative council formed after the Maine Arts Commission awarded a $50,000 Creative Communities=Economic Development grant for the loop. The council is made up of a host of museums, art organizations, municipalities and businesses.

According to Reinhold, one of the biggest projects in creating the loop was creating an asset map of the region as well as a strategic plan.

Each kiosk along the loop includes the tagline: Maine High Peaks: Discover an elevated sense of living.

Orcutt said the Network of Networks is not a member-driven organization and that the brand is open for anyone in the region to use.

“It’s just kind of people all working together,” she said.

The group is in the process of developing a website that will describe the region and include what Orcutt described as a help desk to direct potential visitors to cultural events, business opportunities and other attractions.

New York branding consultant Jim Cox, who has worked on branding campaigns for Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, the islands of Tahiti and Monterey Bay in California, created the Maine High Peaks brand.

“He just came and gave a presentation,” Orcutt said. “He said if you’ve got a region, if you all come together and agree on who you are and what you are, you can take that asset and sell it.”

According to Orcutt, the primary goal of the branding campaign is economic development. An anonymous donor to the Network of Networks paid for Cox’s services.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @ebelanger

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