Friday, February 29, 2008

Rising expectations

Partnership will ‘turn up the heat’ on marketing efforts


The grace period is over for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

Group President and CEO John Sampson knows his organization, now in its third year, is under pressure. He has investors, board members and others who expect the group to produce leads that eventually will turn into new industry in the region.

Sampson said the group was directed last month by its board of directors to “turn up the heat a little bit” and increase the partnership’s visibility. He said there still is a lot of work to do to change outsiders’ perceptions of northeast Indiana, and success is difficult to measure.

“This is hard to do under the best of circumstances,” he said. “I don’t know how much will ever be enough. We have 25 years (of economic decline in the region) to make up for. I don’t know if it will ever be enough.”

The partnership was created in late 2005 to market the region around the world to site selectors and companies looking to expand. It includes 11 counties, stretching from LaGrange and Steuben south to Wells, Grant and Wabash.

During the past two years, it has been building its infrastructure and raising money. With that now complete, partnership members want to see some more tangible results. More here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New tax stirs up threats to move

High-tech offices being wooed by Pa., Del. officials

By Gadi Dechter Sun reporter
February 22, 2008

In January, just as anger over a new tax on computer services was beginning to boil over in Maryland's high-tech sector, Robert Epstein received a call from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

"This guy called and said, 'I don't know if you've heard of the computer tax coming on board in Maryland. ... Have you ever thought of opening an office in our state or relocating to our state?'" recalled Epstein, president of About-Web LLC, a 52-employee, information technology firm based in Rockville.

After poring over maps last week with Pennsylvania officials courting his and other companies in Maryland, Epstein said he is thinking of moving a large chunk of his business to York, where employees can serve Baltimore-area clients. He's already committed to investing more resources in an office he has in Virginia.

Other technology executives in Maryland tell similar stories of being approached by officials from neighboring states and by commercial real estate brokers looking to capitalize on widespread discontent in the information technology sector over the new tax.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's secretary of economic development, David W. Edgerley, said yesterday that his office is aware that Pennsylvania and Delaware have recently targeted Maryland computer companies. He said he is "monitoring the situation" but does not believe it is widespread.

"It is standard operating procedure behind the scenes to try and take advantage of any opportunity," Edgerley said of states' business development agencies. "I don't think it will be very successful."

But in interviews, executives at Maryland's computer companies said they are more receptive than ever to such advances, and some said they are planning to move at least part of their operations out of state to avoid the recent expansion of the sales tax to the computer services industry. More here.

State economic group plans national campaign

FRANK WALLIS Bulletin Staff Writer

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is preparing to launch a national marketing campaign in March that will give the business world a look at the state's economic diversity with a view toward growth in manufacturing, technology and green industry sectors.

Maria Haley, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), visited Mountain Home on Tuesday to update local business leaders on the agency's new Targeted Industry Program that will be rolled out to the public on CNN (Cable News Network) in March.

Haley said for the first time the AEDC is offering sound research and credible rationale in its courtship of industrial-development prospects. That's infinitely important, she said, in market sectors that are becoming increasingly niche-oriented and narrowly defined.

Part of the process of becoming credible involves identifying existing industry and Arkansas resources and understanding how those resources are relevant to business and industry that may come to the state. In terms of existing industry and people resources, the state has a lot on the ball. More here.

Funding regionalism


Local businesses and governments will soon be asked to commit millions of dollars to continue a regional effort aimed at attracting businesses to the Richmond area and keeping current business growing here.

The Greater Richmond Partnership Inc., a regional economic-development group for the city of Richmond and Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties, is preparing for a fundraising campaign.

The group also has explored with Goochland, New Kent and Powhatan counties the idea of joining the regional partnership. But officials in two of those counties expressed reluctance because of the cost.

Working with the Greater Richmond Chamber, the partnership plans to seek about $18 million to support its work for five years starting in 2009.

That's a more conservative goal than the initial $20 million that partnership and chamber officials considered seeking, but it's still an increase from the $16 million the partnership raised from its last campaign in 2004. More here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Marketing image for Champaign County presented to county, city leaders

Assistant Editor, Urbana Daily Citizen

Economic development, the county's image and the need for Urbana to grow were topics of a joint meeting of the Champaign County Commission and Urbana City Council, during which John Fimiani, Westville-area resident and Springboard Marketing president, presented a logo and "brand" for use by the county, local governments, businesses and other entities within the county.

The city contributed $2,000 and the Chamber of Commerce and Community Improvement Corporation each $500 to this initial phase of a marketing project promoting the county's desirability as a tourist destination, business site and place to raise a family.

City Development Planner Melanie Kendrick mentioned the possibility of using the logo in promotions for Art Affair on the Square, which is promoted in various parts of the country, and on Web sites.

Chamber Director Kelly Evans-Wilson said buttons would be created featuring the logo.

Fimiani said the county is free to use the logo and even the several design concepts his company created. The county or governments within the county can develop these ideas into brochures, advertisements or other promotional materials or can contract with his company or another company to develop the materials.

The point, Evans-Wilson said, is "to put the community in a positive light." The "positive lights" in Springboard's concepts include rural scenes, bike trails, a river, families and businesses.

"It's like a resume," Fimiani said of branding a community. "You put your best foot forward." More here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pennsylvania, Delaware, courting Maryland IT Firms

Baltimore Business Journal - by Scott Dance Staff

Pennsylvania and Delaware are going after Maryland information technology companies that might be looking for a way out of paying the state's planned 6 percent tax on computer services. For other companies, an invitation isn't necessary -- they plan to shift growth to other states on their own.

Both states' economic development offices have each reached out to Maryland companies, according to two letters obtained by the Baltimore Business Journal. Neither letter mentions the computer services tax directly, but both tout their respective states as attractive alternatives to Maryland.

John Eckenrode, president of Catonsville's Corporate Professional Services Inc., received a letter from the Delaware Economic Development Office offering information about that state's business environment and work force.

"This letter is not a request for you to consider a relocation of your operations from Maryland," the letter said. "Rather, it is a request for you to include Delaware when you are contemplating an expansion."

Eckenrode said he suspects the agency searched databases of business information for IT firms in Maryland and reached out to other companies as well, because the letter was addressed to Innovative Data Processing Consultants Inc., CPSI's legal name. He plans to talk to the Delaware officials, he said. More here.

Leading Place Marketing Firm Joins Blogosphere

The nation’s leader in place marketing, Development Counsellors International (DCI), has launched a new blog for economic developers. DCI Dialogue is a comprehensive blog providing insights and conversation from DCI’s staff of 42 place marketing professionals.

Since 1960, DCI has worked with more than 350 cities, regions, states and countries, helping them attract both investors and visitors. They specialize exclusively in all phases of economic development and tourism marketing.

DCI Dialogue provides continuing commentary on new trends and best practices in both economic development and travel marketing. A sampling of this month’s posts include discussions on community rankings, place branding and the opinions of economic developers on whether the U.S. is headed for a recession.

Economic development marketers will derive great value from this new blog and the experts who share their knowledge here. Bookmark it now and visit often!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Marketing of Hampton Roads to continue despite U.S. economic woes

By Gregory Richards
The Virginian-Pilot© February 13, 2008


Despite the downturn in the U.S. economy, efforts to market Hampton Roads to outside businesses will continue in full force this year, the head of the region's business development organization said Wednesday.

"We have to be out there even more than before," said C. Jones Hooks, chief executive of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. "A lot of companies will take this time to strategize about the future.

"We definitely want to be in their mix when things pick up again," he added.

The weak U.S. dollar may also encourage more foreign companies to invest in the United States, Hooks told reporters at a media gathering at the group's downtown office.

The alliance sells the region to the world on behalf of 15 localities in South Hampton Roads and the Peninsula. Its roughly $3 million annual budget is paid for by payments from those cities and counties, in addition to corporate contributions.

Last year, five businesses the alliance worked with announced plans to set up shop in the region, and one other company said it would expand, Hooks said. Those projects are expected to produce up to 439 jobs, according to the alliance. The group also helped host 76 visits from companies looking to relocate or expand into Hampton Roads, he said. More here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Staunton reveals new brand statement and logo

By Mindi Westhoff/staff

STAUNTON — Amid a crowded Blackfriars Playhouse on Monday, Staunton Downtown Development Association and the Staunton Office of Economic Development told us just why we like Staunton.

After months of planning, Arnett Muldrow and Associates revealed "Staunton: As You Like It," as the city's new brand. Staunton officials hired the marketing firm last year to find the city's essence and capture it in a simple statement and logo.

"If you like a place where the independent spirit thrives in gifted artists and musicians, and where the solitude of the mountains is just a short drive away..." were just a few of the values Tripp Muldrow read from the brand statement, which promised scenic views, hip restaurants and historic homes, among other things, from the city of Staunton.

From the brand statement, the firm narrowed the city's attributes down to five aspects of the Staunton community to come up with a suitable logo:

The shape of the city's name represents its rolling hills, while the "U" is emphasized to show the unique spelling. A tiny crown-like symbol over the same "U" denotes the Queen City nickname, and the tagline — "As you like it" — shows both the Shakespeare connection and the ability of each resident to make Staunton his or her own.

"You are the biggest fans, and you are the best advertising that this community can possibly have," Ben Muldrow said to the audience.

The Muldrow brothers created two logos, one for marketing and one for more formal endeavors, the latter of which replaces "As you like it" with "Virginia" and includes the city seal. The logo can also be customized for other city departments.

The brothers also showed several possible uses for the logo, including letterhead for City Council, SDDA and the Office of Economic Development, a formal Web site, street banners, trifold brochures and, for the residents, house flags.

"With all the beautiful porches in the community, give people the chance to hang a flag from those porches," Ben said.

Though the marketing firm has helped create brands for cities in 14 states, Ben and Tripp Muldrow complimented Staunton as being welcoming and diverse.

"We have fallen in love with Staunton, and we think it's an absolutely phenomenal city," Ben said to a smattering of applause. "We drive up 81, and it feels like we're driving home."

Staunton Office of Economic Development's Amanda Huffman encouraged business owners and members of nonprofits to use the brand and said it's important that the brand grow just as other, more familiar, brands have in the past.

"We look forward to seeing how the Staunton brand evolves and what it means to different people," Huffman said.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Will Dayton coalition's brand attract business?

By John Nolan
Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Dayton Development Coalition's new branding campaign for the Dayton region, aimed at target audiences around the nation, is intended to help attract new employers and professionals to support science and technology development.

Marketing specialists not connected with the campaign said it will have to be concerted, consistent and well-funded over time if it is to work.
Several who viewed the "Get Midwest ... We Think of Everything ... Dayton Region" logo also questioned whether people will comprehend it.

"It doesn't mean anything to me," said Jack Trout, principal of Trout & Partners, a Greenwich, Conn., marketing strategy firm that serves Fortune 500 companies. "You put an ad out there and say, 'I want you to come here.' That's obvious ... I'd much rather hear or see important news about what's happening in the area."

Branding campaigns must deliver a focused and comprehensible message to attract consumers, said Shashi Matta, an Ohio State University assistant professor of marketing.

"What's missing for me when I look at this logo is, 'What is it telling me?'" Matta said. "It needs to be specific to Dayton. 'Think Midwest,' 'Be Midwest' or 'Get Midwest' is way too broad for Dayton.'"

The Dayton Development Coalition and firms it hired spent two years developing the brand at a cost of $1.5 million either already spent or committed, their leaders said. Leaders of the effort said the campaign's goal is to attract companies and individuals to build the region's targeted growth industries of aerospace research, information technology, advanced materials and manufacturing, and human sciences and health care.

The promotional campaign is intended to convey the region's Midwestern values of a population that is "hard-working, entrepreneurial, open, humble, hospitable," said J.P. Nauseef, the coalition's president and chief executive officer. More here.

Georgia rolls out red carpet for Chinese companies

Cox News Service
Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How do you convince Chinese executives to invest in Georgia?

Low costs, an educated work force and direct flights - as well as "Gone with the Wind," Martin Luther King, Coca-Cola and Jimmy Carter - are among incentives state officials highlighted at a conference in Beijing last weekend.

The sales pitch was part of a burgeoning state effort to bolster trade ties with the world's fastest-growing large economy.

As China's economy has surged over recent years, Chinese companies have begun to invest overseas. According to the latest available U.S. government data, Chinese investment in the United States rose to $554 million in 2006 from $385 million in 2002.

Some of that money has made its way to Georgia. Several Chinese companies have signed contracts to build factories in the state in recent years, including a commitment last September by Sany Heavy Industry Company, a Chinese producer of construction equipment, to build a factory in Peachtree City that will create 200 jobs.

"China is the world's third-largest economy and it's critical for us to establish a diverse and deep relationship with them," Kenneth Stewart, commissioner of the state's Department of Economic Development, said at the Beijing conference, which was sponsored by the state and by Atlanta law firm Morris, Manning & Martin.

"Our goal is to sell Georgia," he said.

The state has unleashed a flurry of efforts to achieve that aim. The Department of Economic Development recently opened an office in Beijing to promote trade and investment, and Governor Sonny Perdue will make his first trip to China in April. More here.

Bridgestone Firestone threatens to leave Akron for Tennessee

Frank Bentayou
Plain Dealer Reporter

Bridgestone Firestone told Akron, Summit County and Ohio that without incentives to keep its 629-employee technical center in the city, it may move the facility to Tennessee.

"After reviewing proposals from a number of cities, we've narrowed our focus to two areas: Akron and middle Tennessee," Bob Handlos, vice president of materials and racing technology for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC, said Friday. "We have to have a more suitable facility" to design and test tires.

Since learning last fall of the company's intention either to remodel the current 98-year-old building or build anew, economic-development officials have focused on crafting a package of incentives that will keep the facility at or near its current South Main Street location.

The tire company is eager for help. "They have made it clear to us that this decision is going to be driven by data. Just the facts" regarding the extent of assistance, according to Dave Lieberth, Akron deputy mayor for administration.

Handlos disagreed. "Absolutely not. We are looking at quantitative and qualitative factors. One is the historic ties the company has with Akron." He's a native of the area himself. More here.

Governor will woo Europe for eco-friendly industry

The Oregonian Staff

SALEM -- Gov. Ted Kulongoski plans to ride Northwest Airlines' first nonstop flight from Portland to Amsterdam on March 29, courting European companies considering big investments in Oregon.

Kulongoski's aides say he'll meet with manufacturers eyeing the state for solar- and wind-industry plants whose presence could spawn thousands of jobs in Oregon's growing renewable-energy sector. The governor will visit the capital of the Netherlands, Germany and possibly other countries.

"We've got a number of companies over there that we've been talking with, both in Amsterdam and in Germany," said Tim McCabe, the governor's economic-development policy adviser, adding that negotiations were preliminary. "Hopefully, when we're over there, we'll be able to make some announcements."

Kulongoski, who has traveled to China, Japan and South Korea as governor, is promoting Oregon as a location for renewable-energy manufacturing, noting eco-friendly laws, tax incentives and social attitudes. State officials are trying especially to recruit a factory for making polysilicon, the raw material in solar-panel cells, believing that a plant would then attract companies downstream in the industry.

Panel makers are scrambling for polysilicon, which is in short supply as solar demand explodes. "It's actually more valuable than money" to solar manufacturing companies, Allen Alley, the governor's deputy chief of staff, said. More here.

Do You Really Want to be the Best?

Cities see both benefits and drawbacks
to being ranked a top place to live.

Spend a morning walking around the historic pedestrian mall in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, and you'll want to move there. Cafes, bookshops, art galleries and theaters line the brick-paved thoroughfare, which the city closed to automobile traffic in the 1970s.

And it's not just tourist kitsch. Along with the clothing boutiques and handmade pottery stores are hallmarks of a workaday downtown — a jewelry repair shop, a pharmacy and banks. A couple of years ago, the city helped build the Charlottesville Pavilion, a concert venue that now attracts national acts. The pavilion's swooping white tent roof anchors the mall's east end.

On warm nights, the whole mall teems with local families and students from the University of Virginia, whose campus — with its life-sized statue of its founder, Thomas Jefferson — is just a few blocks away. But even on a bone-chillingly cold morning in January, the mall is filled with residents bustling to work or running errands, stopping to chat or to warm themselves briefly at an impossibly cute espresso cart. Looking up over the roofs of the brick buildings lining the mall, you spot the rolling, steel-blue foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.This, you're thinking, would be a great place to live.

As it turns out, you could back up that opinion with empirical proof — or as empirical as this kind of stuff gets. The Charlottesville area was named the best place to live in the 2004 edition of "Cities Ranked and Rated," a hefty compendium cataloging more than 400 metropolitan areas throughout the country. The book, by Bert Sperling, praised Charlottesville's clean air and water, good schools, healthy economy and manageable cost of living. The city cheered the recognition. Retail and housing developments 30 miles away started flaunting their location "in Charlottesville." The chamber of commerce printed bumper stickers touting "America's #1 community."

For this city of 40,000 and for surrounding Albemarle County, which has an additional 90,000 residents, the ranking has been a boon, according to Charlottesville city council member David Brown, who served as mayor for four years until he stepped down last month. "The good growth we've achieved — being able to attract the creative class — has been fueled by that ranking," he says over a cup of coffee at the Mudhouse, a cozy hangout at the west end of the mall. "We've improved as a destination, and I think there's some connection to the ranking. It's been helpful, and it's something we're really proud of."

Others in Charlottesville weren't so happy with the designation. More here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Branding state’s economic regions comes with promise, caution signs


SHEBOYGAN — Last 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 Wisconsin 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. More here.

New name, same game: Don’t just dream; create the reality

Ask the average citizen what the Anderson County Development Partnership does, and there might be enough answers for a “Jeopardy” category. At least, that used to be the case. With the unveiling of not just a new name but a new vision statement, the organization now known as Innovate Anderson believes its new brand identity will also provide further insight into its purpose.

The organization that was formed in 1997 to market Anderson for economic development is becoming a force not just in bringing business and visitors to town but creating an environment for business – and people – to flourish.

The long-awaited Anderson Convention and Visitors Bureau came about through the group’s efforts and continues to operate under its umbrella, under the capable direction of the enthusiastic Glenn Brill. In 2006, with the purchase of the remaining acres at Clemson University’s Advanced Materials Research Park, what on Thursday night became Innovate Anderson established a cooperative effort with Clemson University and its research areas that will bear fruit for years to come. Innovate Anderson will continue to provide traditional marketing materials for the Anderson County Office of Economic Development, and also continue its assistance in aiding other organizations to target specific industries.

“Our role is on the marketing end, with an eye toward economic development strategies,” said Innovate Anderson president Mike Panasko, who believes the group’s purpose, once better defined, will be even more effective.

And that purpose is both simple and complicated at the same time. Innovate Anderson will do what the name implies, create opportunities for the county’s economic development areas to present Anderson not just to the nation but to the world, as a place where business opportunities are not limited to what is but also what can be. More here.