Monday, December 31, 2007

City studying potential for growth

By Joe Wessels
Post contributor

Cincinnati officials are studying whether a "place-based" approach would be best for the city's future economic development.

In an unfinished report that is part of the "Go Cincinnati" economic development initiative, experts in several urban development and real estate research firms suggest the city should spend money building up specific areas of the city and that would, in turn, spur further development in other areas.

The report - conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution and Social Compact, Cincinnati-based KMK consulting and Bethesda, Md.-based Robert Charles Lesser Co. - cites "existing growth opportunity districts" as downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Uptown, an area around the University of Cincinnati campus in Clifton, Corryville and Clifton Heights.

"New growth opportunity districts" include three areas. More here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Economic development officials hope to take advantange of Caucus spotlight

Thursday, December 27, 2007, 8:39 AM
By Pat Curtis

Economic development officials are hoping to take advantage of the national spotlight that's focused on Iowa right now because of the Caucuses. A new series of ads are playing on video screens at the Des Moines Airport and on-line at

Shawn Rolland with the Iowa Department of Economic Development says the campaign is designed to encourage families who are looking to relocate to consider Iowa. It's also focused on breaking down stereotypes.

"I think a lot of people come into the state with a preconceived notion of how the state contributes," Rolland says, "and what we want to do is have people rethink what's going on in the state and reposition what it's known for."

There's a 30 second ad and another video titled "The Offer," that runs over six minutes in length. Rolland says the videos are also available to growing businesses in the state. He says companies that are looking for workers can use the videos to recruit individuals to Iowa.

The videos close with a message from Governor Chet Culver, who describes Iowa as a leader in renewable energy, health care and education. Culver says Iowa ranks first in the nation in terms of "quality of life." The ad campaign will run through January 10.

Friday, December 28, 2007

“Branding Wisconsin’s economic regions comes with promise, and some caution signs”

December 23, 2007
By Tom Still

SHEBOYGAN – This year’s New North Summit drew somewhere north of 500 people to a lakeside resort for a day’s worth of talk about strengthening the economy of the 18-county region. From Gov. Jim Doyle to individual entrepreneurs, attendees at the summit heard from speakers with ideas for promoting the region, nurturing its unique assets and branding it as a great place to live and work.

New North, which is clustered in northeast Wisconsin, is a prominent example of the “New Regionalism” in state economic development circles. Born of discussions seven years ago during the Wisconsin Economic Summits in Milwaukee, the concept is finally coming of age with organizations such as Milwaukee 7 in southeast Wisconsin, Centergy in central Wisconsin, Thrive in the Madison area, the 7 Rivers Region near La Crosse, Momentum Chippewa Valley and more.

The effort has become a centerpiece of Doyle’s economic strategy and a legitimate way for otherwise diverse interests, public and private, to pull together to get things done. While there are advantages to the regional approach, there are some reasons to withhold judgment for a while on just how successful some of these entities might be.

First, here’s why regional economic development makes sense:

  • We don’t live in a city-by-city, county-by-county world anymore. While that was certainly the economic model through much of the 20th century, the global economy now dictates otherwise. Stevens Point won’t get ahead by competing with Wausau or Marshfield, but all three might profit by collaborating within a region.?

  • Regions can be big enough to brand, and thus promote, within Wisconsin and outside its borders. Other than Milwaukee, Madison or Green Bay, most Wisconsin cities are too small to sell themselves effectively outside the state. Branding counties? Good luck. No one remembers county names outside their home states except for a select few, such as Cook County in Illinois or Napa County in California.

More here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Group hopes to put brand on area's recruiting effort

Goal is to unify message to attract businesses and talent
By Nathan Phelps

A consortium of Brown County businesses and agencies has launched a new effort to come up with an "authentic brand" for the Green Bay area with the hopes of attracting additional business by showing the region has more to offer than cold weather and football.

The effort is meant to attract and retain businesses in the area, bring in additional tourism and attract young professionals and skilled workers to the community, said Donsia Strong Hill, co-chair for the Greater Green Bay Branding Initiative.

"Recruitment is a big part of this because people don't really know who we are," she said after a news conference Tuesday.

The result of the branding efforts is expected to launch in March, said Michael Hildebrand, group co-chair. The group is working to raise $1 million over two years to cover the initial costs of the branding effort. More here.

M3 Alliance Forms To Better Market Northwest Miss. Counties

The economic development corporations of four Northwest Mississippi counties - DeSoto, Tunica, Tate and Panola - have joined together with hopes of presenting a unified regional front to any company looking to relocate to the area.

Dubbed the "M3 Alliance" (for "Mississippi, Memphis and Metro Area"), the group will market the region by promoting the benefits of their respective counties as well as those of Memphis - the northern neighbor that boasts global name recognition and robust transportation infrastructure.

"We felt these four counties had so much in common with I-55, proximity to Memphis and many of the logistics advantages that Memphis offers," said M3 partner Jim Flanagan. "We felt it was important to band together as this Northwest Mississippi alliance."

The four leaders of M3 are Flanagan, president and CEO of the DeSoto County Economic Development Council; Lyn Arnold, president and CEO of the Tunica County Chamber and Economic Development Foundation; Janie Mortimer, executive director of the Tate County Economic Development Foundation; and Sonny Simmons, CEO of the Panola Partnership Inc.
The quartet is out to prove that the sum of the region is greater than its parts.

"We've found that the regional concept is the best way to market an area as opposed to trying to market ourselves individually, like we have in the past," Simmons said. More here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Trip to Hawaii is all business

Friday, December 21, 2007
DAWN KENT News staff writer

Gov. Bob Riley, Alabama's economic developers and other state officials will kick off the new year by playing host to 20 site-selection consultants at a golf tournament in Hawaii.

The "Sweet Home Alabama" event, held in recent years at Hoover's Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, will coincide with the Mercedes-Benz Championship golf tournament in Maui.
Sponsored by economic development organizations and corporations from across the state, the event is aimed at educating consultants on doing business in Alabama.

Site-selection consultants are key players in landing lucrative projects and the jobs that come with them, said Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office.

"It's probably the most important aspect of our marketing effort, to meet with and network with site consultants, not just in this event, but throughout the year," he said. "Almost all of the major projects we work are initiated by site consultants."

Sponsors requested the venue change this year in an effort to attract some of the most active site consultants from across the country, Wade said.

Such consultants field invitations from many states. The Mercedes Championship, a PGA winners-only event, gives Alabama a competitive venue against states like Georgia, which entertains consultants at the Masters Tournament in Augusta.

The "Sweet Home Alabama" event will run Jan. 2-6, with business sessions planned on two mornings. Speakers will include Riley and two-year colleges Chancellor Bradley Byrne and representatives from Alabama companies, which are some of the state's best ambassadors, Wade said. More here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Building Business

New North Summit addressed bringing businesses to the region
By Janet Ortegon Sheboygan Press staff

When Gov. Jim Doyle traveled to Ireland several years ago, he hoped to find out how the small British nation went from being one of the poorest members of the European union to the one of the richest.

Among other things, he found the secret to Ireland's success was a shared vision of the country's goal of economic stability.

Addressing approximately 600 people attending the New North Summit at Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center Friday morning, Doyle said finding a common goal worked for Ireland and it will work for the New North, too.

New North is a consortium of business people, educators and government leaders from 18 counties in northeast Wisconsin working toward attracting businesses and workers to the region.

"What they were out to accomplish was to upgrade and modernize the Irish economy and that was understood from the person on the street to the person at the highest levels of government and the corporate world," Doyle told summit attendees. "And I applaud the efforts you have made in the New North because it seems to me that perhaps above all else, you have created and worked to build a shared vision in the region of what it is that you need to accomplish." More here.

Report slams economic strategy

County's focus should be on new business, not on tourism
By Dave Moller,» More from Dave Moller12:01 a.m. PT Dec 19, 2007

Nevada County economic groups need to work together and attract new businesses instead of concentrating on the status quo and tourism, according to a new report that was critical of existing efforts.

The county should target higher-paying businesses such as information services, which has "significant" growth potential, along with professional services and health care, the study said. Tourism should not be a target because the lower wages will not improve the county's standard of living, it said.

"You need to focus on business attraction, and you really haven't done much," said Libby Seifel, author of the 73-page report to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that was ordered last year.

The report's proposed strategies are almost the exact opposite of what is occurring now: The current mission of the county's Economic Resource Council has been to retain, not attract, new businesses. The mission of the area's chambers of commerce has been to attract visitors, not businesses.

The county needs to sharply increase funding to attract new businesses, the report said. It pointed out, however, that money could be redirected from the tourism budget. It also suggested tapping the private sector. More here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Study says change essential for Dayton's economic development

Consultants outline six recommendations to help the city's economic development delivery system.

By Joanne Huist Smith
Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007

DAYTON — It's time for change, Dayton. That's the message coming from a study by KMK Consulting Company, LLC looking at ways to improve the city's economic development delivery system.

"We got six pretty significant recommendations and we're certainly evaluating them and devising a plan of attack," Young said.

Five organizations impacting economic development in Dayton were reviewed as part of the study, including the city's Department of Economic Development, CityWide Development Corporation, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority and the Greater Dayton Foreign Trade Zone.

The study found the city's biggest inefficiency fell in the area of business retention.
"Everyone does it yet no one is responsible," the study said.

Another obstacle pointed out in the study, "none of the staff of the various organizations, nor any of their board members interviewed, indicated a willingness to give up any of their 'turf' and narrow their current scope of services."

The six recommendations include:

• Creating a specialized agency to direct a new, consolidated business retention and expansion program for the city. The program should be managed by an independent agency on an interim basis until a development authority has been formed.

All business retention activities currently being conducted for the city should be consolidated into the new program.

• Create a government oversight committee to guide the consolidation of economic development services to achieve bold delivery system improvements for the city. The consolidation should be accomplished in six months.

• Launch an initiative to reinvent downtown Dayton. The city, in partnership with the county and the private sector, should hire a national consultant to analyze the Dayton market and recommend ways to transform the city's core into a residential community.

• Form a city development authority or a city/county development authority that would be located at one site and called, the Dayton Montgomery County Growth Center. The collaborative would be governed by a private sector board selected by the mayor and Montgomery County Commission.

• Create a private-sector deal fund. This support finance function would source and manage private-sector equity and debt into the development pipeline. Private sector funds can be raised from investors who are interested in the redevelopment of Dayton.

• Expand support of the Regional Leaders Forum. This collaborative should be engaged in an advisory role focusing on regional cooperation. All the individual members of the Leaders Forum should have a interest in the competitive success of the urban core of the region that is the brand name of the region — Dayton.

For New Orleans, report sends a familiar message on growing jobs

In a quest to get New Orleans' post-Katrina economy moving in the right direction, a private research group recently outlined the task ahead for the city.

The recommendations by RAND Corp. weren't radical, at least by the standards of hot-growing economies, but were foreign to usual practice in New Orleans. Much of the report qualifies as common sense - and a large portion fell under "Where have we heard this before?"

Perhaps in countless other studies gathering dust on the shelf.

But more than two years after the hurricane flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, and long after it became apparent big companies won't be running in with fists full of cash, the RAND report outlined a lengthy task. Charitably speaking, the city has a less-than-stellar track record for its business climate, especially since the oil bust of the 1980s.

RAND compiled its recommendations for Horizon Initiative, a civic-business group formed after Katrina, and studied economic development plans in 17 other regions - including some that have been cleaning New Orleans' clock. RAND also talked with locals in business and government. More here.

Culture Builds initiative wants to pin down what’s unique about Tuscaloosa County

By Mark Hughes Cobb Staff Writer December 09, 2007

What is Tuscaloosa? What is the city’s culture? And why should anyone want to live here?

Those broad questions of identity are chief in the thoughts of the area’s leaders in business, government, education and arts, those who have stakes in the Culture Builds Tuscaloosa County initiative.

“People ask, ‘Can this be anything but a football town?’ I think it’s not an either/or,” said Sara Anne Gibson, executive director of the Kentuck Association. “Culture is those things that make a community unique. Culture is the Westervelt-Warner Museum, the Crimson Tide and Kentuck.

”Culture Builds is seeking to know how people can find the arts as involving and accessible as the gridiron.

The Culture Builds initiative is an effort co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport, Tuscaloosa County and the University of Alabama. It seeks to bring area institutions, neighborhoods and amenities — from the symphony to the Crimson Tide, the bluegrass pickers to the poets — under its umbrella. More here.

Aerotropolis seen as key to reviving Detroit area

As metro Detroit struggles to renew and rebuild its economy, one goal has emerged as pivotal -- the creation of a new economic hub around Metro and Willow Run airports.

Known as an aerotropolis, or airport city, the goal foresees a day when tens of thousands of people would work in shipping, logistics, air cargo and other businesses linked to the global economy by convenient air transportation.

The goal of an aerotropolis remains elusive and faces daunting challenges. But Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who champions the plan, says it's critical to the region's future.

"We've got an economy that's been hit really hard. We've got to start doing things outside the box," he said. "Look at what Roosevelt did. He started a number of programs to jump-start the economy and spur economic growth. We cannot be afraid of failure."

Although the idea of an aerotropolis has been discussed for several years, Ficano and other civic and business leaders are optimistic that the plan now is moving forward in important ways.

Airport consultant John Kasarda of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is to finish a benchmarking study early next year to see how the Detroit aerotropolis plan stacks up against other cities in the nation that are thinking the same way. More here.

Nonprofit to close after two decades

After more than two decades of trying to promote growth of the local economy, Santa Fe Economic Development Inc. plans to close its doors at the end of the year.

The nonprofit's president, Catherine Zacher, issued a statement Monday saying it lacked government financial support.

"Unfortunately, the continuing operation of SFEDI is ... dependent upon financial support provided by the community through state and local government," she said. "That support has not been forthcoming."

City and county economic development officials couldn't be reached for comment about the pending shutdown. But a Santa Fe city councilor said she was sorry to hear the news and would try to reverse it.

"At one time, five years ago, we had a contract with the city," said Zacher, who managed the operation along with two staff members. "And we just completed a contract with the county." More here.

Open for business?

Hamilton's economic development department has existed for years as the lost orphan inside the city's vast bureaucratic maze.

Everybody has talked about how lovely and needed the department is to the future of the city, but nobody - politicians, city staff, the business community - has wanted to take responsibility for nurturing the department into adulthood.

This week, though, councillors and city management, took a gingerly step forward to infuse the department with some sense of importance. The department will receive, starting in 2008, a much-needed cash infusion of $1.5 million that will go towards boosting its marketing and promotions strategy, hiring eight full-time people and creating an intergovernmental affairs office to lobby higher levels of government.

Even though Mayor Fred Eisenberger, city staff and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce applauded council's decision as a new era for doing business in Hamilton, the reality is more dour. More here.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Study: Walworth County lagging in economic development race

In his 2007 budget brief, Walworth County Administrator David Bretl wrote, "there is no free lunch."

He was referring to paying for the wide range of services the county government provides its citizens.

A privately funded economic study says Walworth County, as a whole, has too many free lunches, a trend that needs to change.

Without a comprehensive, countywide economic development plan, the county economy is missing opportunities despite a prime location between four major metropolitan areas, according to the study.

"While Walworth County is experiencing above-average growth in population, current economic indicators show that Walworth County's economy is underperforming," the study's executive summary reads. "Key indicators such as per capita income and the number of school children receiving free or reduced lunch demonstrate significant problems that need to be addressed."

The study, commissioned by Johnson Bank, Keefe Real Estate and Bliss Communications, parent company to The Week, says Walworth County can expect to fall behind upward economic trends unless it plans for growth.

Opportunities are there. To capitalize, the county should establish relationships with Milwaukee and northern Illinois where a lot of people coming into the county are from, said Dr. David J. Ward, a consultant from NorthStar Economics who led the study. More here.

Finding the "true brand of Wisconsin'' proves a tricky exercise

By Brian E. Clark

MADISON – For more than six years, Rep. Steve Wieckert has been pushing legislation to brand the state and come up with a short phrase to describe why Wisconsin is a good place to visit, relocate, go to school or expand a business.

He’s still at it, and predicts his bill (Assembly Bill 265) will make it through the Legislature and be signed by Gov. Jim Doyle next year.

But that doesn’t mean Wieckert (R-Appleton) isn’t supporting a new effort by Tourism Secretary Kelli Trumble to come up with a brand that would boost travel and improve the state’s overall image.

Trumble says it's her goal to “unearth, once and for all, the true brand of Wisconsin.” “I compliment [the Department of] Tourism for doing this,” he said last week. “They’ve had some good slogans in the past because we have so much to offer. “But a brand is more than a bumper sticker,” he said. “It’s a whole cognitive emotional thing. I would like a brand that not only brings travelers here, but encourages economic development, too."

Wieckert estimated the state's many agencies will spend about $20 million annually to market various aspects of Wisconsin. “With a unified brand, there could be a synergy to support each other,” he said.

Kathi Seifert, a former Kimberly-Clark executive who now heads Appleton-based Pinnacle Perspectives, said she was unaware of the Tourism effort. However, she still supports the idea.

Seifert is a co-chair of New North, which promotes northeast Wisconsin and has as its own brand, “North of What You Expect.” More here.

Great Lakes see a future beyond industry

By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
WAUKEGAN, Ill. — When Mayor Richard Hyde looks at the waterfront here, he sees beyond the toxic waste, the empty factories and the vacant lots. He envisions a post-industrial future of condos, shops and restaurants — a bustling community of 10,000 affluent people on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Unfortunately for the mayor, three factories have no plans to leave. They've been in Waukegan for generations and their owners don't appreciate being treated like outcasts to be evicted.

"We've given them notice," says the mayor, 80, who was born here. "They can stay another five years, maybe 10 or 15 years, but after that they must go."

Why close a profitable, non-polluting wallboard plant that would cost $100 million to replace? asks National Gypsum plant manager Steve Rogers, 31. Sixty workers would lose jobs paying $18 to $20 an hour. "They aren't going to make that kind of money serving mocha frappuccinos," he says.

The conflict in Waukegan symbolizes the dramatic changes sweeping across the five Great Lakes, a region that is trying to reinvent itself in a way that could have major implications for the nation. Attitudes about the Great Lakes have changed so drastically during the past three decades that manufacturers are finding themselves unwelcome even in cities they once ruled. More here.

MCED takes new approach to luring industry

Crawfordsville and Montgomery County might have many assets to attract business, like a shovel-ready commerce park and industrial corridor, but those things are only part of what businesses look for when determining a new location.

An emerging approach to attract businesses to any area involves looking not just at the immediately surrounding community, but also at the region and even the state, Montgomery County Economic Development Director Bill Henderson said.When he tries to sell Montgomery County as a viable place for industry, he makes sure to mention regional business attractions — like the Indianapolis International Airport and Purdue University.

“It would be a mistake to go out there and limit yourself,” Henderson said. “When you think about the whole piece of the pie for attracting business, you have to look at the region, then the state, and then look at the LEDOs (local economic development organizations).”Starting now and continuing through next year, MCED will take a proactive approach to marketing the county as a viable business site by traveling around the region and country to visit with site selection companies that represent businesses wanting to move or start in a new area, Henderson said.

Site selection firms have made it clear they want to have personal relationships with communities they are investigating, and Henderson plans to give them just that. MCED will focus on the Illinois and Chicago areas next year and is one of only six economic development organizations in Indiana to be able to go with state officials to Chicago to meet with several international firms.

MCED has been to Portland, Ore., and Indianapolis in its mission to promote Crawfordsville’s commerce park and industrial corridor. More here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Officials: EDC working hard to bring jobs

Although Stanley Furniture’s announcement Wednesday that it will cut 250 jobs here is a serious loss, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is doing everything in its power to bring jobs to the area, officials said.

“Your heart goes out to these people that are losing their jobs,” said Mark Heath, president and CEO of the EDC. “It’s sort of hollow to say we’re doing everything we can to bring new jobs, but we are.”

“It’s hard to be patient,” he added, “but that’s what it takes. We didn’t get here overnight, and we’re not going to turn this around overnight.”

A $2.7 million shell building recently dedicated at the Patriot Centre industrial park and Henry County’s acquisition of two properties for new industry put the area in the right position for growth, Heath said.

Those things have “opened up the door to a lot of new people looking at us and considering us,” he said. “How many of those will turn into real prospects, only time will tell.”

Heath declined to say whether the EDC has any “real prospects” now. However, he said officials are not waiting for jobs to come to them. More here.

One Year Later - Durham's Overarching Brand is a Success

DURHAM, N.C. – Assessment, one year after its launch, indicates the overarching brand for Durham is working. The brand is already adopted in more than 250 ways by local organizations and companies, and hundreds more by the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB), Durham’s marketing agency. The embrace has also been ratified by scientific surveys of local residents and external audiences nationwide.

“When you’ve articulated a successful community brand, it strikes people not like a lightning bolt, but rather like an Aha! – this really fits,” said Shelly Green, Chief Operating Officer of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Three years ago, DCVB was asked by other messenger organizations to explore the possibility of an overarching brand. Only one year after its launch, it’s getting good traction.”

Successful overarching brands for communities are rare and there was concern it wouldn’t be possible to overcome the fragmentation common in a community as eclectic and diverse as Durham. After all, to be overarching, the Durham brand had to encompass everything from Research Triangle Park to Duke University, from Downtown to NCCU, from sports and performing arts to festivals, history, research labs and everything in between.

The purpose of an overarching brand is to make all messenger organizations more consistent. At their essence, community brands go far beyond logos and tag lines to drill down into the values and experiences core to the community’s personality. A major hurdle is overcoming the simplistic notion that brands are logos or taglines. More here.

Why the Atlanta brand matters


Cities are the most important and recognizable brands in the world. More than consumer brands, states, provinces and even countries, cities dominate the global mindshare of brands. You may want to go to France, but Paris is the destination. No one travels to New York State, it's NYC. And so on.

We live in a city-region, "Atlanta," that is a "giga-brand." The Atlanta brand has been etched into the cellular membranes of billions of people. Atlanta is not just the name of a city; it is a biological plaque holder in the brains of the most important people in the world – economic, political and religious – and it is associated with powerful images, ideals and symbols. It is an economic brand of optimism and hope, with a social foundation for inclusion, tolerance and human rights. Atlanta is one of a few cities that dominate in this category.

For this reason, the Atlanta brand is the most important nonpeople asset in our state. It is pure gold, Olympic and otherwise. Competitor cities like Dallas, Richmond, Va., and even Miami would die to have the reach and depth of the Atlanta brand. They understand brand creation is painfully slow, expensive and illusive.

The great opportunity for Georgia is to leverage the Atlanta brand to accelerate economic growth, especially global expansion. Many of our leading corporations – UPS, Coca-Cola, Delta and Home Depot – are creating their growth and profits from international expansion. They are top global brands. When the value of these brands is associated with the value of the Atlanta brand, everyone wins. More here.

MN Governor unveils economic development strategy

BROWNSDALE - Gov. Tim Pawlenty picked the perfect place to announce a new program to stimulate rural economic development Monday: Akkerman Manufacturing Inc.

The initiative - Strategic Entrepreneurial Economic Development (SEED) - is designed to help strengthen communities and expand the small business base throughout Minnesota.

“Investing in small business will bring lasting value and economic growth to our entire state and especially rural communities that need it most,” Pawlenty said. “Companies with fewer than 100 employees account for 97 percent of the state's businesses and generate most new jobs.”

“SEED will help new business, existing companies and rural communities by providing a wide variety of economic development tools that can be matched to each situation,” Pawlenty said. More here.

Group hopes to put brand on area's recruiting effort

A consortium of Brown County businesses and agencies has launched a new effort to come up with an "authentic brand" for the Green Bay area with the hopes of attracting additional business by showing the region has more to offer than cold weather and football.

The effort is meant to attract and retain businesses in the area, bring in additional tourism and attract young professionals and skilled workers to the community, said Donsia Strong Hill, co-chair for the Greater Green Bay Branding Initiative.

"Recruitment is a big part of this because people don't really know who we are," she said after a news conference Tuesday.

The result of the branding efforts is expected to launch in March, said Michael Hildebrand, group co-chair. The group is working to raise $1 million over two years to cover the initial costs of the branding effort. More here.

Grand Rapids area is well into its ‘branding’ mission

GRAND RAPIDS— Competing on a statewide, national, perhaps even global playing field is prompting officials in this West Iron Range community to seek an edge.

Grand Rapids and its economic development and business leaders want the city and surrounding community identified as a great place to visit and more importantly, a great place for economic investment. To that end, the city has enlisted the help of a professional firm to develop a Grand Rapids “brand.”

The branding project is being developed by Nashville, TN-based North Star Destination Strategies, a firm dedicated to branding, strategic planning and research services. North Star Destinations’ clients include 80 communities nationwide, according to its Web site. More here.

Missouri CORE Aims to Foster Area Economic Development

COLUMBIA, MO (2007-10-30) Twelve mid-Missouri counties have announced a cooperative partnership to boost economic growth within the region. The partnership is called Missouri CORE, which stands for Connecting Our Regional Economy. Missouri CORE wants to raise money to attract more business into the region.

Columbia Chamber of Commerce chairman Marty Siddall says things are moving toward a broader regional effort instead of focusing on individual communities."

The whole model has changed and clearly economies are not defined by county lines."

Sidall says businesses that may not be a good fit for a particular community may be better off somewhere else.

Sidall says Missouri-CORE hopes to raise $200,000 to cover the cost of a staff person as well as marketing materials focused on the region.

Towns use marketing to create, promote identity

Village President Dave Krienke had an identity crisis last month.

Walking the trade show floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, watching hometown boosters from dozens of cities and villages extol the virtues of their little pieces of the state to big-name retailers, Krienke realized something about Roscoe.

No one really knew where it was. They knew Machesney Park, Rockford and even South Beloit.

Roscoe wasn’t on the radar.

Krienke’s dilemma is one faced by suburbs and exurbs, big towns and small cities all over the state, said Larry Frang of the Illinois Municipal League. It’s such a problem that it’s given birth to a cottage industry of experts, consultants and book authors who are paid to tell people the best way to market their town to the world. “The question is ‘How do I make my town of 8,000 people that’s connected to two expressways different from every other town of 8,000 people that’s connected to two expressways?’” Frang said. More here.

Grand Blanc Twp. seeks to develop "knowledge economy"

GRAND BLANC TWP. -- Township officials are aiming to help move the region from a nearly obsolete manufacturing economy to a "knowledge economy" by persuading high-tech companies to set up shop in the township.

A proposed "technology village area" was at the heart of a four-hour symposium Wednesday at Genesys Conference Center that drew more than 200 stakeholders -- residents, business leaders, government officials and developers.

"We have one goal: to bring our kids back home," said Keith Edwards, the township's community development director and symposium organizer. "We send them off to college and they don't come back." More here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jobs Now! outpacing goals, report shows

With four years of work under its tool belt, a regional economic development project is on track to meet its goals.

Jobs Now! is a joint project of the East Tennessee Economic Development Agency, the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, the Oak Ridge Economic Partnership and other public and private entities. The program’s aim is to boost jobs and wages and generate new investment in the metropolitan Knoxville region.

Last month, the program’s 2006 annual report was released, and the report card shows that Jobs Now! is outpacing its original goals.

Through the first four years of the program, a net total of 28,909 new jobs have been created, exceeding the goal of 26,640 jobs. Two other benchmarks have also been surpassed, as the region has tallied announced nonresidential capital investments worth nearly $2.3 billion and seen earnings per job of $39,252 in 2005. More here.

The ‘Nation Brand’ Marketplace

The term "nation" in this article title might be considered interchangeable with "city", "county", "region" or "state".

National public-relations campaigns typically raise eyebrows. The whole idea of a country advertising itself evokes propaganda—and history’s most notable propaganda efforts, in Stalin’s Soviet Union, for instance, or Nazi Germany, carry dark connotations. Yet just in the last ten years, an industry has emerged to help countries better tailor their image. As a new Backgrounder outlines, “nation branding” has established itself as a hip new field, both in academia and consulting.

It’s no mystery why countries find the idea compelling. Public-relations concerns loom over some of the world’s geopolitical heavyweights—and the stakes include economic prowess and diplomatic power, not just tourism. “Brand China,” for instance, finds itself increasingly threatened (BBC) following a flurry of scandals over dangerous lapses in the quality control of Chinese exports. The United States, too, is besieged with bad press. Recent polling data from the Pew Research Center shows global perceptions of the United States at a nadir in many parts of the world, particularly among Arabs and Muslims, but also in Europe and Latin America. These numbers represent a stunning shift from the years between 1989 and 2001, when the world’s views of the United States, even in Islamic states, were overwhelmingly positive.

Given these kinds of concerns, the idea of image consulting is finding new traction, and a phalanx of consultants stands ready to advise any country that will cough up the fees. But does nation branding actually work? And, perhaps more importantly, is its rise a good thing? Simon Anholt, an expert on nation branding, says in an interview that the brand-consulting phenomenon is “potentially a very dangerous thing.” He notes that countries can easily get the idea that their bad policy can be whitewashed with good public relations—an idea he staunchly rejects. Furthermore, Anholt says sophisticated consultancies often find “rather easy victims” in countries hoping for a quick fix. More here.

State seeks to sum up Wisconsin

Using just a few words, describe Wisconsin, and explain why it's a good place for vacationers as well as business operators, university students, and any other subset of people state officials might hope to attract.

State tourism officials are trying to create a "brand" for Wisconsin - a way to convey, in just a few words, how Wisconsin is different from other states. The official state brand would be used to attract vacationers, but also could help draw businesses as well. What are your suggestions for Wisconsin's brand?

That's the job facing the state Department of Tourism, which has begun an effort to create a "brand" for Wisconsin.

A brand is bigger than just the tagline from the latest tourism ads. Currently, in Wisconsin, that would be "Life's So Good."

The idea is to "identify that single point of difference that Wisconsin has over other competing destinations," and then create a brand that reflects that point, said Tourism Secretary Kelli Trumble.

Tourism is a major industry in Wisconsin, with travelers spending an estimated $12.97 billion in 2006. That's according to an annual Tourism Department study that measures spending by vacationers and business travelers on hotel rooms, meals, gasoline and other items.

But a state brand should be broad enough to sell Wisconsin for a variety of purposes, Trumble said.

"Yes, it's about vacationing," said Trumble, a former executive director of Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau, who later opened Sundara Inn & Spa, in Wisconsin Dells.

But it's also about "people wanting to live in Wisconsin, go to school in Wisconsin, and bring their business to Wisconsin," said Trumble, who was appointed tourism secretary in February by Gov. Jim Doyle. More here.

Attracting companies not what it used to be

LONGMONT — For John Cody, working to attract companies to Longmont is a never-ending battle to keep up with the changing times.

“Two things primarily are different today: It’s more complex, and it’s more competitive,” said Cody, president and CEO of the Longmont Area Economic Council.

Longmont competes with the rest of the world in trying to attract companies. But domestically, Cody says, Longmont has an advantage that sets the city and region apart.

The LAEC is one of nine partners with the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. that promotes economic development regionally.

About 20 years ago, the partners signed a formal agreement that they would not poach businesses from one another and would not disparage one another when talking to companies. More here.

Site selection has evolved into a sweet science

LONGMONT — Gone are the days when an executive for a growing company places a call to a local chamber of commerce and asks for a community’s demographics and real estate statistics. A global economy and the advent of the Internet have changed the way expanding business find a place to build or relocate.

And it’s changed the way people such as Don Schjeldahl, a site-selection consultant for 25 years with Cleveland-based The Austin Co., operate.

"In a town like Longmont ... they have to understand the competition is not down the road," said Don Schjeldahl with Cleveland-based The Austin Co. "It might be Shanghai, or what’s happening in St. Louis, or somewhere else."

Companies’ moves today often involve international searches, said Bob Ady, a 30-year site-selection veteran and owner of Chicago-based Ady Inter national Co.

"You might be looking at places in four different countries," he said.

Both men agree that it’s a much different world than when they first got into the business. More here.

Baltimore tries to break free of Rust Belt image

Baltimore left the Rust Belt behind years ago, but local economic development marketers think the metro area has yet to shed the reputation of a struggling manufacturing hub.

They want to get out-of-town companies and locals to think of the Baltimore region as an equal of affluent Seattle, Denver and San Diego, rather than besieged Cleveland and Detroit, its historical peers.

The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, a nonprofit partnership between government and business to encourage economic growth, released a "progress report" last night that makes the argument by marshaling facts about changes in the Baltimore area since the start of the decade. More here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Brand America

In today’s hyper-competitive world, countries are becoming important brands in terms of tourism and business, and it doesn’t take too many trips out in the world to sense that Brand America is in trouble.

If you’re interested in the numbers, the Pew Research people have them all. The basic message: America’s image is in a dramatic decline just about everywhere. This is not a good thing in a world being driven by the global economy. Whether you’re Boeing, Apple Computer, General Electric or Ford Motor, it’s not helpful when people dislike the country of origin. It gives your global competitors an emotional edge.

No one appreciates this more than Brand America’s sales force, namely the State Department.

Several years ago, I was asked by them to develop a marketing program to help diplomatic officers better sell America, its products and its efforts to the world community. Obviously, it’s something that is desperately needed. The only concept attached to the U.S. is a terrible one: “The world’s last superpower.” All this expression does is to portray us as the world’s bully. And some of the administration’s language and policies only re-enforced this perception. In China, for example, the media often refers to America as the global police.

Coming up with a better marketing concept was fairly simple. Go to the world community with a program that offered more benefits, not one with threats. The strategy was to have President George W. Bush say to the world that we are shifting from self-vision to a new world vision simply expressed as: “Helping the world to be a safer, freer and more prosperous place.” That’s what everyone wants, and we can help deliver those benefits. Here’s a simple, but wise, observation as to why this approach should work. It’s from The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as he wrote, “If you convey to people that you want them to succeed, they will take criticism. If you convey that you hold them in contempt, they won’t listen to you.” More here.

The Difference Between Marketing, PR, Advertising, and Personal Branding

Found this great article at Quick Sprout on the difference between PR, Branding, Marketing and Advertising:

A few months ago on Ads of the World and Pronet Advertising, the difference between marketing, PR, advertising, and branding was discussed through pictures. These illustrations were also used at the International Economic Development Council Annual Summit in Phoenix in a presentation by Development Counsellors Inc.

marketing pr advertising personal branding

If you take a close look at the pictures from a personal branding perspective you’ll notice that you definitely don’t want to market yourself as well as advertise yourself. Doing these two things makes you seem a bit desperate. Telling a woman that you are a great lover usually doesn’t mean much because it is coming out of your mouth. And if you go one step further by repeating that you are a great lover (advertising), you can definitely count on the woman not believing you. But on the other hand if a woman tells another woman that you are a great lover or if a woman tells you that “I hear you are a great lover” chances are you are going to get laid.

If you want to brand yourself you need to understand that it is much more effective when other people talk about you in a positive fashion compared to self-promotion.

Hopefully the picture helped!

Sparta refreshes Web presence with new branding effort

SPARTA -- Sparta has a new tool to help link the past and future -- a revamped interactive Web site unveiled this week by Mayor Tommy Pedigo.

The launch coincides with a new regional branding effort and corporate identity program for Sparta, dubbed "Bluegrass, USA."

Home to several early bluegrass pioneers, Sparta is regarded as a cradle for the musical genre, a theme that resonates throughout the Web site, starting with the banjo picker who greets viewers on the home page.

Visitors to can travel the virtual streets of Bluegrass, USA and find everything from historical tidbits and a Sparta trivia quiz to key information such as phone numbers for city officials and economic development information.

"Our new Web site is an invaluable marketing tool for Sparta," said Mayor Tommy Pedigo. "It will help us promote Sparta to tourists and visitors, retirees, business and industry, and many other groups and individuals. Our strategy is to increase the number and the volume of our revenue streams. Our goal is to contribute to the well being of the citizens of Sparta." More here.

Looking forward: County adopts brand for uniform promotion

A new branding campaign is under way for Tuscarawas County.

The logo features a prominent Tuscarawas County, with the theme “A tradition of creating the future.” It’s Phase Two of the Tuscarawas 2020 marketing committee’s plans to create a brand for use by businesses, organizations and residents throughout the area.

“It provides a philosophical approach toward looking long-term for the county’s growth,” said Tiffany Gerber, who will become chairwoman of the marketing committee in January. “If the logo keeps appearing, it starts to become a top of the mind recognition for people. We’d like to see it appearing all the time in some form, whether it’s on Web sites, stationery or with e-mail correspondence.”

“It works across the board,” said Kelli Baker of the marketing committee. “We’re not asking anyone to abandon their own brand or identity. We’d just like to see them make this part of their overall efforts. Several organizations and businesses have already told us they’re adding the new logo to their e-mail or letterhead. The 2020 Web site is being revised to reflect the changes as well.” More here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise returns its focus to marketing

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise will focus on marketing the region to businesses, as it was originally conceived, while other economic development agencies work more on helping existing companies stay and expand.

“The whole marketing part of it, we can beef up,” said Tom Kucharski, president and chief executive officer of BNE. The group outlined its strategy and reviewed last year’s results at its annual meeting on Wednesday.

BNE over the past year researched industry sectors it will target for new jobs and investment, primarily life sciences, agribusiness and back-office operations, Kucharski said. It also worked with commercial real estate professionals to create an online commercial listings service, to showcase available properties in the region in a centralized way.

With those resources lined up, BNE felt the time was right to devote more attention to promoting the region to business prospects, as it was formed to do eight years ago, Kucharski said. In recent years, BNE has also become more involved in working with existing companies on keeping them here or helping them grow. Read more here.

EDA sees busy period for recruiting

On the heels of some of the most active months for industrial recruiting, the Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority is also gearing up for an aggressive marketing plan.

“We’ve had some incredible activity over the last two months,” CGEDA Director Wiley Blankenship said. “We’ve had a lot of requests for information, and every county has benefited from those requests.”

CGEDA is a partnership of Escambia, Conecuh and Monroe counties, with businesses in those counties also providing investment capital.

Turning those requests for information into requests for proposals is the next step, Blankenship said.

While interest in the area has increased since German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp announced it would build a $3.7 billion plant in north Mobile County — about 75 miles from Brewton — Blankenship said TK has not created the only buzz.

“It’s not necessarily a result of TK,” he said. “I would like to think it’s because of what we’ve been doing.”

In coming months Blankenship plans to attend trade shows for aviation, retail and wood products, as well as food processing and plastics.

Those are among the top areas of recruiting that CGEDA focuses on, Blankenship said.
Attending those shows helps keep the region top of mind with prospects and developers, he said.
Meanwhile, CGEDA has also had exposure in two different trade magazines that published articles and the organization.

“This will be our most aggressive year when it comes to promotion and marketing,” Blankenship said.

Cedar Valley counties launch mass business recruitment drive

WATERLOO --- Business recruiters throughout the Cedar Valley and Northeast Iowa are speaking with one voice and saying one thing to prospective businesses:

Y'all come.

And they're coming.

That's because economic development and governmental groups in Black Hawk, Bremer, Butler, Buchanan, Grundy and Chickasaw counties have banded together to form a Cedar Valley Marketing Partnership.

It was formally announced Thursday at Hawkeye Community College after months of advance work. That work is paying off"

Personally, I've had more leads for projects in the last three months than I had in the five years I've been in this position," said partnership chair Jeff Kolb, director of Butler County Resource & Development. "It's totally changed the way we do business."

The Iowa Department of Economic Development gave the group a three-year grant of $150,000 to help market the area, to be matched by organizations in each of the counties, based on population. Read more here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Million Dollar Question: How Do We Market Our Community to Site Selectors?

By Bob Ady, Ady International

Of all the questions I get asked each year, the question of how to market to site selectors is always in the top two or three. Why is this question a perennial favorite? The proportion of searches done by site selection firms is increasing. By my estimate, 30-40% of all site searches today are done by outside site selection firms, and the bigger the project, the more likely this is the case. Although these firms may seem like a pretty big universe given the power they exert over the site selection process, quite the contrary is true. There are probably only about 50 or so site selection firms which do the lion's share of the projects.

So we have a situation where there are relatively few site selection firms and literally thousands of community, regional, state, and other economic development organizations, such as utilities vying for their attention. While that may sound daunting, remember that site selection firms need the economic development organizations as much as the economic development organizations need them. A successful location project requires an effective relationship between the two.

So, how do economic development organizations reach these firms, or do they wait and hope that the consulting firms find them? I know of no progressive economic development organization that does not have site location firms as an integral part of its business attraction strategy.

There are three primary approaches for achieving this goal. First and most important are personal meetings with the consulting firm. Not necessarily the principal, but the individual consultants that are the project managers. Preferably this should be in the site selector's office, but events and conferences are other effective venues.

Another effective approach in creating top-of-mind awareness for your community is through the use of e- mail to individuals in the consulting firm. Focus on what site selectors want to know, not just what you want to push. Key among the information in the e-mail should be new plants locating and new buildings/sites becoming available.

Finally, your website offers the first portal to your community. It may not offer the advantages of a personal meeting but the majority of site searches start with data gathered from your website. Make sure it is easy to find and loaded with the type of information site selectors need. And make sure the strengths of your community or region come through loud and clear, to help make your community worth remembering.

It seems pretty straightforward, but relatively few economic development organizations are consistently good at establishing and maintaining ongoing relationships with site selection consultants. It may well be one of your marketing activities with the greatest return on investment if you follow the simple rules of thumb I've outlined here.

Explore Buffalo Niagara attracts 30 executives, foreign officials

About 30 executives and officials from around the world are expected to attend the three-day Explore Buffalo Niagara 2007 economic development forum that begins Wednesday.

The turnout of primarily foreign officials and executives is the payoff from the 1,500 invitations that were sent this spring to top business officials offering them a personalized look at what the Buffalo Niagara region can offer their companies.

“For this being the first time this has ever been done in this country, I think it’s a success,” said David A. Roll, the Western New York chapter manager for the National Electrical Contractors Association, who is serving as the initiative’s chairman.

Organizers declined to say exactly who is expected to attend the forum, citing the possibility that last-minute travel changes and business demands could alter some participants’ plans. But they range from a Chinese shoe manufacturer and an executive from a Japanese sake business to a group of officials from Buffalo’s sister city in Tver, Russia. Read more here.

EDC says marketing study not worthwhile

An $18,000 marketing study conducted for Jackson County by consultants from Texas fell short of what the firm promised, according to members of the Jackson County Economic Development Commission.

So the economic development commission is asking for its money back.

“It was a very canned report,” said Chris Matheson, an attorney on the EDC board. “It looks like you could probably substitute the name of any number of communities for the name of ours.”
The consulting firm analyzes a community’s demographics and determines what businesses would be a good fit for the community. The results? Applebee’s, Dairy Queen, Belk’s, Hallmark store, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Hibbet Sporting Goods, Staples, Target and Tractor Supply.

Rick Fulton, the chairman of the EDC, said the group wasn’t impressed and doesn’t agree with the results. Fulton isn’t sure how much luck Jackson County would have recruiting some of the businesses Buxton recommends, such as the Belk’s for example. Fulton said consultants can be convincing when giving their pitch, but don’t always deliver.

The consultants pitched their services to the EDC in fall of 2005. They said they would analyze the county’s demographics “utilizing a variety of parameters.” Buxton used words like “psychographics”, claiming they analyze the lifestyle characteristics of the community to determine what businesses the population could support but was currently lacking. Read more here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Place Branding for the Economic Developer: AE Weighs in on the ‘Big Debate'

Place branding is a hot topic within the economic development community, and rightly so. In a world where marketers typically have ‘one shot’ to instantly get the attention of -- or introduce themselves to -- site selectors, consultants, tourists, potential workforce, and their own constituents, having and presenting a cohesive and enticing community identity has profound conscious and subconscious impact.

When the topic of place branding is debated in public and private forums, typically two factions become the primary contenders: The economic development practitioner faced with limited marketing resources but that first and foremost ‘need to get their [city, region, state, country]’s name out there’ vs. The marketing consultant that argues that a brand is not simply a logo and a tagline, but rather a collective of perceptions, messages, and mechanisms that a logo just happens to be a part of.

The former, in many cases, ultimately just wants to hire a graphic designer to create a visual identity that grabs the attention of target audiences and is popular among local decision makers and business constituents. The latter wants to analyze the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, competition, resources, and character in order to present a promise and vision statement that ultimately will impact how the community presents itself internally and externally.
AngelouEconomics’ (AE) perspective sits exactly in the middle. The fact is AE has unique perspective because we provide place branding services to economic development practitioners and place marketing consultancy to marketing firms based on unique client need. Having often been asked our stance in ‘this debate,’ it has always been our contention that both factions are correct –- only if they achieve an effective end-result.

And, to us, the end-result resides in a criterion of four parts: Read more here.

How Public Relations Changes Minds

Public relations changes minds in the process of deliveringwhat business, non-profit and association managers need more than almost anything else - the kind of key stakeholder behavior change that leads directly to achieving theirmanagerial objectives.

It happens when the right kind of public relations alters individual perception, thus doing something positive aboutthe behaviors of those outside folks that MOST affect amanager’s organization.

Minds end up changed when managers follow a blueprintsomething like this: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is usually accomplished. Read more here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Committee wants you to help brand Helena

What should Helena be known for?

That’s what a committee wants to know, as the community moves forward with finding a unique brand for the city to draw more visitors here.

“We’re sort of on the full-court press of gathering public opinion,” said Matthew Cohn, current chair of the Advantage Helena committee tasked with rounding up people’s thoughts as part of the ongoing branding process.

“We want the public buy-in; we really do want their ideas.”

Working with Destination Development, a Washington state firm, Advantage Helena is collecting people’s thoughts on Helena’s identity and how we choose to show ourselves to the rest of the world.

“Really, the brand is about finding our identity,” said Jim McHugh, director of Downtown Helena, Inc.

City Commissioner Alan Peura, a member of the committee, said he believes the group has overcome the early perception that the branding effort is strictly for the benefit of downtown.

Read more here.

Howard County jobs campaign to target locals

Work in the county, closer to home -- that's the message Howard County's economic development department will try to convey with a new marketing campaign targeting its residents.

The Howard Jobs campaign, with a Web site and radio commercials, is slated to begin Sept. 4. The Howard County Economic Development Authority wants to reach the more than 95,000 residents who work outside the county.

Richard Story, the CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, said in a statement the effort will help local businesses along with residents, who would benefit from reduced drive time and gas costs.

County officials did not disclose the cost of the marketing campaign. Read more here.

No image is no hindrance for Overland Park


Even to government, a hundred grand isn’t peanuts. That many tax dollars would fix plenty of potholes. Or buy several tanks of gas for the police and fire departments.

However, the city of Overland Park is spending up to $110,000 to buy something a little more esoteric.

An image.

Now, to some, that might suggest the image of a community so well off it can easily blow 110 thou on what amounts to fluff.

Then again, OP wouldn’t be the first city, county or state to buy into the branding trend since “I Love New York” started it all in the 1970s.

Simply put: Your burg is Nowheresville if you don’t have a logo, slogan and marketing campaign. And getting those normally means hiring a consultant who does surveys and hires focus groups.
OP is way behind the pack on this sort of thing.

“This city has never done any kind of branding,” Overland Park spokesman Sean Reilly told me.

True, and the results are all too apparent.

Without branding, OP grew from a sleepy bedroom suburb to the most populous city in Johnson County and the second largest in Kansas. Read more here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Public Relations — Are you missing out?

When business owners think of marketing their products or services, it ’s easy to think of only traditional advertising and marketing. They fall into the trap of not looking at the whole picture and forget about other important avenues. While advertising and marketing can be effective, the driving force in today’s business communication is identifying, planning and implementing a high-quality public relations program.

Effective public relations is more than just getting ink. It gains favorable attention and conveys a consistent and newsworthy message to the intended audience. When presented as news, the message gains credibility that makes it more effective. An integrated marketing approach that combines advertising with media relations efforts will be much more effective in keeping your brand top of mind.

Public relations can take a variety of avenues, including news releases, newsletters, annual reports, media kits, press tours, feature stories, special events and presentation materials. Public relations needs will vary by company, but they should always be used in conjunction with a coordinated strategic approach. Read more here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Partnership aims to draw employers to St. Cloud area

St. Cloud did not make Arctic Cat's original list of possible expansion sites.

But when Thief River Falls-based snowmobile and ATV manufacturer learned about the area's well-educated work force, access to major suppliers and reduced-tax JOBZ program, it took a serious look.

CEO Chris Twomey did his research and spoke with local businesspeople before securing the company a spot on Opportunity Drive in 2005.

Landing a spot on lists like Arctic Cat's is not easy. But the St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership is going further than it ever has to promote the area and bring new businesses to Central Minnesota as more employers recognize the possibilities of the dual-highway corridor between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.

The communities touching Interstate Highway 94 and U.S. Highway 10 are expected to almost double in population by 2030, even by conservative estimates. Corridor counties and others on the northwestern corner of the Twin Cities are among the top 100 nationwide for rapid growth.

The Partnership embarked this spring on its largest marketing effort in its 22-year history.
The latest marketing materials complement The Partnership's ongoing visits with site selectors and prospective businesses, exposure at trade conventions and newsletters.

The campaign's series of four postcards encouraged 1,000 businesses and site selectors to make St. Cloud and Central Minnesota a destination. The cards highlighted the area's "abundance of highly skilled labor," "expanding infrastructure" and "ideal location."

They led up to a June event that brought 25 site selectors and 15 business leaders to the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis to learn about the area's latest developments. The Partnership unveiled a new marketing brochure. Read more here.

Fort Collins brand unveiled

Board and staff members of the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority this morning were among the first to view the new brand that the city paid a Tennessee-based marketing company $80,000 to craft.

"Fort Collins: Where renewal is a way of life" is the tagline that North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville drafted to brand the city.

Chief city spokeswoman Kelly DiMartino, in a brief presentation at the DDA's monthly meeting, outlined how North Star examined the city's broad traits to focus on a core identity, an "authentic Colorado college town in the foothills of the Rockies," and how its paradoxical qualities could be best exploited.

"They found that Fort Collins was 'green' but also business-friendly," DiMartino said. "They said we were high-energy, but laid back."

North Star last year did a similar branding job for Greeley, under a $76,000 contract that led to the tagline "Greeley: Great from the ground up."

North Star also created a logo, mock-ups of print advertisements and a Web site design all wrapped around the new Fort Collins brand. The logo features the tagline over curling lines suggestive of a river or a foothill skyline. Read more here.

No. 1 Wired City seeks best plan to attract capital

America’s No. 1 Wired City once captured the fancies of journalists around the globe looking for places with a fresh story to tell. Tacoma’s story got told and retold more than 200 times. Not anymore.

The world went wireless. Today, America’s No. 1 Wired City finds itself obsolete technologically, irrelevant to journalists and relegated to a past chapter in the Tacoma saga.

So, this spring, the City of Tacoma made a public plea for expert help with an ambitious goal – instigate a new surge of local and national media coverage that persuades developers, business owners and commercial real estate investors to pour private capital investments into Tacoma.

Four companies – two from Tacoma, two from Seattle – say they can do it and want the contract to identify Tacoma’s next story and share it with the world

However, don’t expect a new brand slogan and logo from this venture, said Ryan Petty, director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.

“The time will come again when it makes sense to create some kind of a (new) catchphrase,” Petty said. “This assignment is about helping us increase the flow of private capital into town.”

Later this month, leaders from all four companies looking for that assignment will give their best in-person pitches to City Hall evaluators who will pick the powerhouse public relations team best able to sell Tacoma. Read more here.

'Memphis Delivers' Touts Web Site, Newspaper Ads

In an effort to attract the attention of some outside corporations and bigwigs, the Memphis Regional Chamber has launched a Web site to showcase all Memphis has to offer any business considering a move to the city.

The site,, offers a wealth of information, from demographics to workforce data to the core industries that make up the Memphis market.

In conjunction with the launch of the site, the chamber also has kicked off an advertising campaign that began with banner ads along the bottom of online publications such as, the online version of The Dallas Morning News. The advertisements direct viewers to the Memphis Delivers site.

Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development for the chamber, said the organization plans to introduce the campaign into cities other than Dallas before the year is over.
"We're also going into San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York," Herbison said. "And all of those cities we're doing between now and the end of the year."

The advertisements probably will be introduced into a new market about every 30 to 45 days, Herbison added.

Besides the banner ads, the campaign also will include sending direct mail materials to targeted companies and business consultants who might be scouting new markets for the companies they represent.

"We're trying to promote Memphis to (these consultants and the decision makers in the companies)," Herbison said. "We look at fast-growing companies and things of that nature. And we just try to stay top of mind, so if they get ready to expand they at least give us a consideration." Read more here.

Memphis shifting into Fast Forward strategy

Beginning this week business and civic leaders will roll out an ambitious economic growth strategy that has been nearly two years in the making.

After working behind the scenes on the plan for the past 18 months, public officials and business leaders this week will unveil Memphis Fast Forward, an economic growth plan that focuses on crime, education and workforce development, government efficiency and economic development.

Supporters -- including the city and county mayors and heads of the city's most powerful companies -- say the four-part initiative could generate thousands of new jobs, slash crime rates and raise educational standards.

"It's really a plan for the future of the city of Memphis," Gary Shorb, president and CEO of Methodist Healthcare, told The Commercial Appeal editorial board Monday. "It is, in my opinion, the best thing we've put together in 25 years in this community."

Shorb will speak about the Memphis Fast Forward effort Wednesday during a Leadership Academy event at Bridges Downtown. Read more here.

City looks at branding plan

Green River may soon have a distinct brand and plan to promote its tourism.

During the Green River City Council meeting Monday evening, Council gave Pat Robbins, Sweetwater Economic Development Association executive director, permission to pursue grants to pay for the brand and plan.

“It's not a study; it's an action plan,” Robbins said.

Robbins said Destination Development will come up with a plan and a brand for the city. It will cost $70,000, however, Robbins is asking for a $25,000 grant from the Wyoming Business Council's Community Development Block Grant and $10,000 from the Joint Travel and Tourism Board.

The Council will need to raise the other $35,000.

What the community must remember, is the plan is designed to attract tourists, Robbins said. Some plans include marketing, logos, signs and design. The downtown areas will be marketed.

The city should have the tourist shops on the main streets, Uinta Drive and Flaming Gorge Way, she said.

“We want to make it as easy to spend money as possible,” Robbins said.

All Councilman agreed to pursue obtaining the grants.

Councilman Angelo Kallas said he would like this project done even if the city doesn't obtain the grants.

Aligning Regional Marketing Resources in AL

'A lot of questions to be answered' as to economic development

With the announcement of the ThyssenKrupp steel mill at Calvert, the Clarke County development office is already seeing activity. "We (Clarke County) were already an area of interest," said Debra Bolen, Executive Director of the Clarke County Economic Development Partnership.

"We are already growing. It has just increased the interest." That is thanks to the efforts that have taken place by county and city officials over the last several years, she said. TK makes the county even more attractive.

The Clarke County Commission is asking board members of the Twin Rivers Economic Development Partnership and mayors in the county to appear at the Aug. 13 work session to discuss the relationship between Twin Rivers and county development agencies.

Twin Rivers was created in 2006 to promote the regional development interests of Clarke and Choctaw Counties. The agency has since joined with the Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Authority to market a five-county region, including Choctaw, Clarke, Escambia, Monroe and Conecuh. Wiley Blankenship, President/CEO of Coastal Gateway is serving as the economic developer for the combined effort.

In addition, Sullivan-St. Clair Advertising of Mobile was hired by Clarke County to create a marketing plan for the county.

Where does Clarke County's development office fit into this new regional approach? "There are a lot of questions out there to be answered," Bolen said. "…There's no doubt…that we need to be looking at economic development and the way that we market our area from a regional perspective. Read more here.

MDA director: Automotive and aerospace industries key to international competition

STARKVILLE - Raising salaries through better-paying jobs from aerospace and automobile-related industries is what will move this state from its at-times backwater standing on the national and international economic stage to a more front-runner status, said Mississippi's leading economic developer.

“Those two, around the world say, your people are skilled and you're able to compete,” said Mississippi Development Authority Director Gray Swoope, as he touted the region's newest economic development game pieces in the automotive and aerospace industries, notably, PACCAR and companies like American Eurocopter, Aurora Flight Sciences, and the research and development work of General Electric.“

And I'll tell you, we can compete, and we are,” added Swoope, speaking Monday to the Starkville Rotary Club in what amounted to a pep talk and solid pat on the back to the economic development movers and shakers in the Golden Triangle.

“Economic development is a team sport, and I'll tell you, our legislative team is on board,” the West Point native told the Rotarians.Increasing disposable income with higher-paying jobs must be a major part of the state's economic development strategy, say officials.

“If we're going to move this state forward, we've got to increase the disposable income,” said Swoope. Read more here.

Indy-based group tours Anderson

Anderson has a lot to offer.

That’s the message Mayor Kevin Smith and other Anderson leaders wanted to communicate to two representatives from an Indianapolis-based economic development group who visited Anderson on Monday morning.

Carol D’Amico, president and CEO of Conexus Indiana, and Lisa Laughner, executive vice president of Conexus, toured several businesses Monday to get an idea of Anderson’s needs, goals and strengths from an economic development standpoint.

Conexus Indiana, a new part of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, is a group that works on economic development for communities in the state. Specifically, the group focuses on advanced manufacturing and logistics. The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership has four components: Conexus; Bio-Crossroads, which focuses on life sciences; TechPoint, which focuses on information technology; and Indy Partnership, which does work in advancement and economic development. Read more here.

'Everywhere's possible' is new slogan for SeaTac

"Everywhere's possible."

That's the new branding slogan adopted by the city of SeaTac to attract businesses and developers to the city.

Staffers at HadleyGreenCreates, a marketing firm that has been working with the city for six months, presented the brand Aug. 6 to SeaTac council members.

They said it is meant to convey that the city offers businesses, residents and visitors access to air transportation, major highways and soon light rail to go wherever they want to go.

The marketing firm also unveiled a blue and green logo to accompany promotional materials.Besides the city's name, a blue and green three-quarter circle represents that people that can start from SeaTac and go "everywhere" and then return to SeaTac for its attractions. Read more here.

Granholm works to drum up business on trip to Sweden, Germany

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she’ll focus on recruiting automotive and alternative energy companies to Michigan during her upcoming weeklong trade mission to Sweden and Germany.

Granholm announced an itinerary that begins next Monday and includes visits to three Swedish cities and meetings with executives of six German companies.

She will begin the trip with a keynote speech to a Swedish American Chamber of Commerce assembly of 500 business and government leaders. “Some of it is prospecting, and some of it is deal-closing,” Granholm said, adding that the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has already been working with companies to obtain agreements for Michigan operations.

Of particular interest is Sweden’s renewable energy and biofuels industries, she said. Granholm said Sweden has an ambitious plan to convert nearly all power to renewable energy sources by 2020, and she hopes to convince those industries to come to Michigan. Read more here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why Full Disclosure and Transparency Matter

An Orlando area newspaper columnist recently railed against further government support for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. She cited exaggerated claims the organization made concerning its role in the location of several companies to the region. Unfortunately, some of the businesses subsantiated the columnist's claims that the MOEDC had little, if any, involvement in their relocation.

The result: damage to the credibility of the organization regardless of how inaccurate the claims may be. The organization should plan a swift, proactive response that is authentic and completely tranparent. They then may earn an opportunity to educate the public on how their efforts contribute to economic growth regadless of their level of involvement with a particular relocating company.

I am sure the MOEDC is a valuable development organization for the region. Unfortunately, it has allowed itself to be measured (and thus, judged) on jobs and investment, two measures any EDO has little control over. We need more realistic metrics that are both comprehensive and measurable to better reflect the true value an EDO brings to a community. Read the opinion column here.

Is It the Death of Demographics?

By Don Peppers

Are the days of demographics as a primary marketing tool over? Market segments are shrinking as information becomes more accessible and easier to analyze. Marketing based on location or purchase history is becoming outdated –- who responds to direct mail addressed to "current resident" anymore?

A unique dialogue with each individual customer, the ideal in one-to-one relationships, is now possible, according to Chris Bailey, CEO of RatePoint, which promotes and analyzes online ratings systems.

"Demographics are a crude way of looking at markets, almost a segmentation of a macro vision of how you approach customers," Bailey says. "If you can get the segment down to one [customer], you can have a much more optimized delivery with instant return."

As futuristic as it may seem to say that companies can communicate with each of their customers differently given today's global marketplace where a small market share could mean millions of consumers, he's not alone in his views.

Martha and I have been advocating this point since day one, and now it looks like technology and strategy have caught up to the idea in a more mainstream way. "Technology today is aligned with [Bailey's] point," says Linda Vytlacil, vice president of Decision Sciences for Carlson Marketing. "Companies are organizing to execute against much more highly individually relevant and uniquely compelling communications to consumers."

Inexpensive storage capacity, software capable of searching large databases, and the prevalence of consumer data collected via the online channel all contribute to more individualized communication. Traditional media like television and print that are mass-produced are suffering as a result of this trend because they can only target large groups, according to Bailey. His contention that demographics are dead, however, is not certain.

"Demographics aren't dead, but using broad sociodemographic information alone for targeting might be," Vytlacil says. "That just isn't as relevant as an organization could be if it knew specific information about a customer."

A better understanding of a customer leads to predictions of behavior, Bailey claims. "Utilizing better and more specific information lets you come up with a profile of each customer and try to make assumptions on their next actions based on what other, similar customers have done," he says. In other words, what does this customer most need from us next?

The question is, where does all this new relevant, critical information on customers come from? Social media and other Web 2.0 technologies will contribute, but Vytlacil sees even more direct interaction between customer and company providing significant insight.

"What's going to be the driver here won't be what the company can extract from the consumer," she says. "It's the collaboration that companies will be doing with their customers." She points to KLM, an airline company that allowed customers to create personalized luggage tags similar to the way credit card imprints can be personalized with different images. In that way the company is collecting such data on customers as their interests without sending a survey or buying a demographic list.

Regardless of how companies acquire it, the key is relevant, specific information. "We won't just be looking at demographics anymore," Bailey says, "but we'll be looking at an individualized approach to optimize results and improve the customer experience."

For more of Chris Bailey's thoughts on the future of demographics, listen to the 1to1 on the Run podcast, "The Death of Demographics."

A question that all economic developers should ask is how changing technologies can help build one-to-one relationships with their various audiences.

Branding Promises Fort Collins Renewal

Look alive, Fort Collins, because we want the whole world to know that this is the place "where renewal is a way of life."

That proposed slogan incorporated into a swooshy logo representing the foothills and Poudre River is perhaps the most tangible product to come out of an $80,000 branding study commissioned by the city.

But city staffers insist the logo is but a very small part of a much bigger branding proposal. It is aimed at establishing a consistent, distinct and unique identity reflecting Fort Collins' superior essence in efforts to market the city as a destination for businesses, visitors and residents.

The findings and recommendations contained in the branding study now are being shopped around in presentations to various boards and civic organizations. Later this fall, the Fort Collins City Council will consider adopting the logo and allocating $236,775 requested to begin implementing the branding program. That first phase would include directional signs, promotional materials and development of a "portal" web site, Read more here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

As a brand, Oregon has ended up a tough sell

In his first term, Gov. Ted Kulongoski launched an ambitious plan to put Oregon on the world map, to brand it as the place where berries taste better, businesses thrive and sophisticated tourists come to play.

Three years later, the effort has fizzled after Brand Oregon officials failed to sell it to the Legislature.

Lawmakers refused to give Kulongoski's pet project any of the $1.6 million requested, saying that schools, colleges and construction were "more important, if you will, than expanding a label," said Sen. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, who with Rep. Mary Nolan, D-Portland, led the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee. Read more here.

Officials put new Greeley brand to fire

Greeley City Manager Roy Otto may be the spitting image of how officials hope residents will adopt the city's new branding campaign.

During every city council meeting, Otto outlines what is great about Greeley and follows it up with the branding campaign tag line."It's what makes Greeley great from the ground up," Otto often says.

Almost five months into the two-year plan to implement the branding campaign to improve Greeley's image in Colorado and beyond, officials have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars putting the brand into action.

The Greeley Chamber of Commerce paid North Star Destinations $67,000 to create the new brand. Of that money, Greeley contributed $10,000. Read more here.

Farming the Field vs. Low Hanging Fruit

By Patrick McConahy, Whittaker Associates

There are basically two main ways in which economic development organizations can pursue leads. One way is to look for those few companies out there that we classify as “low hanging fruit”. These companies have plans to grow immediately and rapidly develop an area. The other way to pursue leads is by “farming the field”, casting your net wide and then slowly reeling them in. Valid arguments can be made for both approaches in terms of what way is the best, but at the end of the day you cannot focus on just one and forget about the other.

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the economic development industry over the past year is the growing need to find these “low hanging fruit” leads. Read more here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Place Branding: Rochester, New York

I recently led the first phase of the effort to brand my hometown, Rochester, New York. I'd like to share my thoughts on this ongoing process.

Like it or not - we are branded. Whether intentionally managed or not, brands exist in the minds of people to whom they should matter. I most often hear the following associated with Rochester by people who don’t know the city: snow, Kodak, downsizing, economically struggling Upstate city, long winters. These are not the words or phrases most of us would want associated with Rochester at the top of people’s minds. Take snow for example. Snow is not so bad if you are Colorado or Utah. And, we don’t get nearly as much snow as Buffalo or Syracuse. And, it is great that Bristol Mountain is only a half hour away. But, there may be other associations that are more helpful.

In the online survey I conducted, the following most resonates with residents: “Small town feel, big city culture,” reflecting our plethora of museums, musical concerts, film festivals, etc. but also our (mostly) friendly residents, easy commutes, affordable housing, cozy neighborhoods, etc.

While we will likely never successfully compete with New York and Chicago and San Francisco, I believe we should be able to very successfully compete with Austin, TX, Portland, OR, Columbus, OH, etc. Read more here.

Prosperity doesn't come from jobs alone

For decades, the successful relocation of new businesses to the Roanoke region has been good news. Intense efforts to recruit companies have been led for almost 24 years by the Roanoke Valley Economic Development Partnership -- the region's economic development marketing organization that is funded by the private and public sectors.

Results have been steady, with more than 13,400 new jobs and $1.2 billion in investment attracted by the partnership over that time. That's a very credible record, but is it enough to drive prosperity in the Roanoke region well into the 21st century? Read more here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

How Will They Answer the "Ultimate Question"

An intriguing opportunity for communities is presented by management consultant Fred Reichheld in his book The Ultimate Question.

Reichheld and his colleagues retained a research firm, which went to thousands of customers in six industries (financial services, cable and telecommunications, personal computers, e-commerce, auto insurance and Internet services). It asked questions about satisfaction and then it tracked the purchase behavior of those customers.

They discovered the one question a company can ask its customers that links so closely to their behaviors that it provides a practical surrogate for behavior. The question is one that has been used in customer satisfaction surveys for decades: would you recommend this company (or product, or service) to a friend of colleague? By subtracting the number of detractors (those who give a company 6 out of 10 or less) from the number of promoters (those who give the company a 9 or a 10), a company can arrive at what Reichheld calls its Net Promoter Score, a measure of how well it is generating loyalty.

Communities should be asking this question of their existing businesses to determine overall levels of satisfaction. The community Net Promoter Scores should be monitored constantly and used for comparative purposes. For instance, benchmarking your community’s Net Promoter Score against another’s is easily accomplished and can lead to new insights about your own. Segmentation between different industry types is possible. More importantly, it can be used as a measure of the impact of various retention strategies, community initiatives or public policy changes.

The Net Promoter Score is a measure that fits the changing dynamics of economic development marketing and a new emphasis on non-traditional media and word-of-mouth. It also works to the benefit of an approach increasingly being used by communities that focuses more on building relationships with existing businesses and entrepreneurs and less on mass marketing appeals.