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.