Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Officials express regret over Bridgestone decision

By: TMP Staff Reports-July 29, 2008
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 3:16 pm

The city of Murfreesboro failed to secure a Bridgestone technical center despite being one of two finalists.

Bridgestone Americans announced Tuesday afternoon that it had elected to build a state-of-the-art technical center in Akron, Ohio near its existing research center.

“While we are disappointed that the company did not choose the Murfreesboro Gateway as their final location, we applaud the city of Akron and the state of Ohio for retaining such a fine company”, said Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg. Ohio offered Bridgestone an economic development package estimated at $68 million. Tennessee officials wouldn’t release the incentives offered to the company.

The technical center employs 600.The city of Murfreesboro, State of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, the Rutherford County Industrial Development Board, Rutherford County Government, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and Middle Tennessee State University worked very aggressively through site selection, education initiatives and incentive negotiation to secure this project on a specific site within the Murfreesboro Gateway, local officials said.

“It is always difficult to compete against the home-team advantage,” said Holly S. Weber, vice president of economic development, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, “the city of Murfreesboro, State Economic Development, MTSU along with our department worked aggressively and presented a sound economic package, which included incentives involving land, tax abatements, infrastructure, training and relocation costs.” More here.

Fishing in the Same Pond

Officials dangle incentives, attracting firms across county lines
Sat. July 26 - 2008
Peter Schnitzler - pschnitzler@ibj.com

Marion County economic development officials are proud of their latest headquarters attraction. Bowen Engineering Corp. will inject 103 high-paying jobs into the Indianapolis economy immediately. And over time, the company expects to add another 138. Their average salaries will top $70,000.

The deal didn’t require Mayor Greg Ballard to travel to Japan, or even to another state. Bowen Engineering is moving all of 8.4 miles, from its former home in Fishers to the 8800 block of North Meridian Street.

But in crossing the Marion County line, the company earned itself a seven-year property tax abatement valued at $290,389.

“We were pleased that Bowen wanted to make Indianapolis its home, and excited about that,” said Deputy Mayor Nick Weber, who leads economic development for Ballard.

“At the end of the day, we’re looking for Indianapolis to have a vibrant economy, with employment possibilities for our citizens. Companies that want to be a part of that, we’re interested in talking to.”

Indianapolis didn’t set out to poach Bowen Engineering, which declined to comment to IBJ because lease negotiations for its new location aren’t complete. Marion County economic-development officials began courting the company only after it couldn’t find new space near its current home to its liking.

And they opened talks only after Fishers granted a release letter—something counties routinely do when companies suggest they might move outside central Indiana.

The letters are necessary because officials in Indianapolis and the suburbs long have agreed that pilfer- ing companies within the region is a no-no.

Yet there has been a spate of such deals lately, most involving substantial incentives. In the last year, Indianapolis landed both Bowen and Haverstick Consulting. At the same time, it lost ASI Ltd., Freije Treatment Systems Inc., Klaisler Manufacturing Corp. and SMC Corporation of America.

But doling out incentives to reshuffle companies that already are in the region strikes some observers as a waste of precious tax dollars. More here.

Rutland seeks new marketing tagline

July 27, 2008
By Brent Curtis Staff Writer

Over the years, Rutland has been known as "The Crossroads," the heart of the "Marble Valley," a "City for Weddings" and, to the locals anyway, as "Rut Vegas."

Those nicknames have all been based on some part of the city's past or present – although a failed marketing plan and wishful thinking have been blamed for the wedding tagline. That slogan, trotted out in the early 1990s, never took hold and survives only in marketing studies.

Now city officials, regional development officials and an assortment of people interested in elevating the city and region to a prominent place on the tourism map are trying to come up with new word associations for Rutland.

The effort will eventually yield a new slogan that sums up the finest qualities of the city, its economic potential and the tourist attractions within easy driving distance.

And it will sum up those qualities in a statement short enough to fit on a bumper sticker.

That's the magic of branding.Branding shouldn't be confused with marketing, which looks for the right markets in which to sell a product. Nor is branding the equivalent of advertising which aggressively sells a product or service.

Branding aims to capture the heart and soul of a product and reduce it to something succinct and, hopefully, unforgettable.

The idea is that like designer jeans, Mercedes-Benz vehicles and Apple computers, whole communities, regions and even states can be summed up in a tagline and logo. It helps, of course, if that one-liner brings to mind the top selling points of a place. Think: "What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas" or "I love New York.

"When it comes to branding, small cities like Rutland are automatically beind the eight ball because unlike Las Vegas and other major cities, they're relatively unknown to the world at large and lack enormous marketing and advertising budgets.

But the consultants who are helping Rutland with its re-branding efforts say the city has a lot going for it. More here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Website Users Study 2008

By Joel Burgess
The Whittaker Report
July 2008, Issue 77

This morning at the UEDA (Utility Economic Development Association) Summer Forum in Cleveland, Audrey Taylor, President of Chabin Concepts, Don Schjeldahl, Vice President and Director of Austin Consulting, and Mark James President of ED Solutions, Inc., lead a session entitled, New Standards for Economic Development Websites. The session aimed to provide insights about how economic development companies can make their websites more effective.

Chabin Concepts, Austin Consulting, and First Energy (Akron, Ohio) recently conducted a Websites Users Study to determine how site selectors, corporate real estate professionals, brokers, and other interested parties actually navigate the web to get their information. The goal of the study was to establish guidelines for developing a business recruitment website that meets audience expectations for content and functionality at all phases of the site location search process.

The study was implemented in two parts:

1) Exploratory user testing of four site selectors performing assigned tasks on economic development websites.
2) Online survey completed by 67 respondents, roughly half of whom were site selectors. All but two had worked on a business location project in the last year.

The final report is due out in the coming months; however, the executive summary can be viewed by clicking on the link below: If you are in economic development, real estate, and/or site selection you need to check this out - extremely useful information in building a web presence!http://www.utilityeda.com/Summer2008/SessionThu1.pdf

KPMG: Atlanta ranks high as tax-friendly area to businesses

Atlanta placed third in KPMG International’s analysis of major American cities with tax structures favorable to businesses.

The “KPMG’s 2008 Competitive Alternatives: Focus on Tax” study puts San Juan, Puerto Rico at No. 1 with a total tax index of 46.6, which represents tax costs 53.4 percent below the U.S. national average of 100. San Juan was followed by Baltimore at 92.1 and Atlanta at 95.1. Atlanta also ranked ninth among the 35 largest international cities.

Rounding out the top five American cities are Tampa, Fla., (98.1) and Detroit (98.6).
"Cities across the United States recognize that attracting and retaining businesses of all sizes is important for a vibrant local economy," said Hartley Powell, national leader of the strategic relocation and expansion services practice at KPMG LLP, the U.S. member firm of KPMG International. "As the survey results indicate, certain cities are leaders in developing a tax environment that encourages business development, and tax costs are a key consideration in the site selection process."

KPMG said its study is a global comparison of the total tax burden in 102 cities throughout 10 countries, including corporate income taxes, capital taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, miscellaneous local business taxes and statutory labor costs.

More from DCI’s “Winning Strategies” Survey: EDO Websites

Often, an executive’s first contact with an economic development organization is through the organization’s website. Regarding the likelihood of visiting an economic development organization’s website during their next site location search, 64% of respondents indicated a “4” or “5” on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “Low” and 5 is “High.” In 2005, 65% gave this rating, while in 2002, only 39% did.

Location advisors are much more likely to visit an economic development organization’s website than the corporate respondents. A follow-up question asked respondents to indicate which features are most important to the usefulness of an economic development organization’s website. Twelve features that are commonly included in the design of an economic development organization’s website were presented:

• Directory of available buildings & sites
• List of leading local employers
• Demographic information (e.g. population size, average income, age distribution)
• Information on local schools, including colleges and universities
• Information on available incentives
• News section that describes current developments
• Testimonials from local companies
• Photos/maps of the community
• Information on quality of life (e.g. residential neighborhoods/recreation options)
• Information about the community’s target industries
• Current comparisons to competitor locations (e.g. cost comparisons)
• Website sitemap

“Information on available incentives” was selected by 82% of respondents, “demographic information” by 73% and “directory of available buildings & sites” by 49%.

The ordering of these features has remained consistent over time. Executives did register a decrease in the importance of a “directory of available buildings & sites.” In 2005, 64% of the survey audience rated this as an important resource compared with 49% in the current survey.

Comparing the three subgroups shows that executives from large companies find demographic information most useful, while for midsize company executives and location advisors, information on available incentives is most useful.

Economic development organizations must recognize that their website will frequently be the first place location decision-makers go to learn more about their community. Keeping the website attractive and full of useful, up-to-date information may help gain a community a spot on a short list.

The full report can be viewed at DCI’s website here.

More from DCI’s “Winning Strategies” Survey: Corporate Executives’ Perceptions Of EDO's

Sixty-five percent of respondents indicated that they have worked closely with economic development organizations (either on the state, regional or local level) while working on a location decision. That breaks down as 62% of midsize company executives, 55% of large company executives and 94% of location advisors.

Generally, the respondents have favorable impressions of the economic development community. When respondents who have worked with economic development groups rate their overall impressions of the organizations on a scale of 1 to 5, economic development groups earn a mean score of 3.7.

Over time, corporate impressions of economic development groups have fluctuated slightly. In 2005, the mean score was 3.81, up from the mean in 2002, 3.54, the lowest rating in any survey year. In 1999, economic development organizations were given a rating of 3.77 and in 1996, the rating was 3.73.

In the 2008 survey, economic development organizations received an average score of 3.61 from large company executives, 3.71 from midsize company executives and 3.72 from location advisors.

To explore when the initial contact with an economic development group occurs during the site selection process, the survey asked respondents to choose from five options:

 During the initial screening of all possible locations, to request preliminary data.
 After we have developed a shortlist of potential communities, to request specific data or arrange site visits.
 After the field has been narrowed to a few finalists, to negotiate incentive offers.
 After a location has already been selected, for assistance in identifying a suitable building/lot.
 We would not contact an economic development organization at any stage in a site location search.

The most frequent response was “After we have developed a shortlist of potential communities, to request specific data or arrange site visits” with 40% of those surveyed selecting this option.

This differs slightly from the pattern of responses when the question was asked, for the first time, in the 2005 version of the survey. We did not find evidence of a shift by site selectors to contact economic development organizations later in the selection process – a change which many in the industry anticipated.

There are differences among the three subgroups of the 2008 survey. Location advisors are more likely to utilize the services of an economic development organization (only 1% indicated they would not contact an economic development organization at any stage), and are more likely to contact one earlier in the site selection process.

More from DCI’s “Winning Strategies” Survey: Importance of Factors in Business Location Decisions

In the 2008 survey, a new question probed the factors that are most important in a location decision. As executives weigh the strengths and weaknesses of potential locations, what makes them choose one area over the others? Eight factors (“Business-friendly government,” “Competitive incentives/tax exemptions,” “Efficient transportation systems,” “Labor,” “Overall operating costs,” “Proximity to funding sources/financial markets,” and “Quality of life”) were presented.

Respondents were asked to rate each on a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 equals “low” and 5 equals “high.” The factors were placed in order in the table below based on the mean score each earned.

The three survey subgroups (midsize and large companies; location advisors) prioritize these factors similarly. The biggest exceptions are that executives from midsize companies put “Quality of life” ahead of “Competitive incentives,” and “Efficient transportation systems” higher than “Overall operating costs,” while the other two groups rank “Competitive incentives” higher than “Quality of Life” and “Overall operating costs” higher than “Efficient transportation systems.”

Similarly, location advisors rank “Competitive incentives” higher than “Business-friendly government,” while the other two groups flip the order of these factors. The following chart shows how each subgroup rated each factor.

The full report can be viewed at DCI’s website here.

More from DCI’s “Winning Strategies” Survey: Effectiveness Of Established Marketing Techniques

A separate question asked by Development Counsellors, Inc. in their “Winning Strategies” survey (see below), they asked respondents to rate the effectiveness of seven typical marketing techniques used by economic development groups.

What is the most effective means of reaching corporate executives who may be considering a new site location? Respondents rated each technique (“Advertising,” “Direct Mail,” “Hosting Special Events,” “Internet/Web Site,” “Planned Visits to Corporate Executives,” “Public Relations/Publicity,” and “Telemarketing”) on a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 equals “poor” and 5 equals “excellent.” The order in the chart below is based on the percentage of
responses that were either a “4” or a “5.”

“Internet/website” soared to capture the highest rating among all economic development marketing tools for the first time, pointing to how essential a strong Internet presence is. The following chart shows the ranking of all the marketing techniques. Looking at responses over time, we see the steady rise of using the Internet as a marketing technique from 1996 to 2008.

The full report can be viewed at DCI’s website here.

More from DCI’s “Winning Strategies” Survey: Influencing Corporate Decisions

Where do corporate executives get their information about business locations? Which marketing tactics can economic development officials use to influence target companies? What factors are most important in making a location decision?

For the fifth time, Development Counsellors, Inc.’s “Winning Strategies” survey asked corporate executives with site selection responsibilities to tell us which sources of information influence their perceptions of a community’s business climate. Respondents were asked to choose three from 13 possible responses: “articles in newspapers and magazines,” “business travel,” “dialogue with industry peers,” “direct mail,” “meetings with economic development groups,” “national surveys,” “personal travel,” “print advertising,” “TV/radio advertising,” “TV/radio newscasts/shows,” “word of mouth,” “online sources” (added in 1999) and “other.”

The top five responses are:

1. Dialogue with industry peers 61%
2. Articles in newspapers and magazines 53%
3. Business travel 43%
4. Meetings with economic development groups 32%
5. Online sources 28%

The top three influencers – “dialogue with industry peers,” “articles in newspapers and magazines” and “business travel” have remained remarkably consistent since the survey was first conducted in 1996. Executive perceptions are heavily influenced by what “other credible sources” say about a community (or what they observe in their own travels), rather than by what a community says about itself via controlled media.

According to DCI, economic development groups need to think creatively about how to apply these lessons to their own marketing programs. They offer two observations drawn from DCI’s experience in economic development marketing:

 Stimulating greater “dialogue with industry peers” – essentially getting local business leaders to communicate with external colleagues about a region’s business advantages - remains a challenging but potentially blockbuster marketing opportunity. Successful ambassador programs initiated by local economic development groups have had some impact in this area. Growth in social media and online communications offers a new and inexpensive avenue for “peer-to-peer” dialogue.

 A structured program to communicate with the business traveler offers a similar opportunity – particularly for larger communities with significant tourism assets. Creative approaches implemented by economic development organizations include training programs for taxi/limousine drivers, tailored materials in airport/hotel business centers and “strategic conferencing” – attracting specific meetings/conferences that will bring target executives to a community.

The full report can be viewed at DCI’s website here.

Gain Positive PR in Tough Times

Widespread layoffs, plant closings and a weak economy have seemingly dominated the mainstream press coverage in recent months. But along with all the news of doom and gloom, there has been an increase in the number of stories offering examples of successful economic development initiatives.

For instance, the Wall Street Journal today published a special section that highlights the economic success of communities around the globe. How can you take advantage of the search for good news? Here are some tips:

· Don’t limit yourself to business writers and editors alone to pitch your story. Every category of media offers opportunity. For instance education reporters would be interested in your workforce development efforts, real estate reporters on your efforts to create megasites, etc.

· Lists – offer journalists inspiration for a top five or top ten lists. We all love them and appearing on one increases your community’s credibility.

· Be proactive – offer a positive and upbeat tone. Give hope and encouragement to others who are working to turn their communities around. Provide doable examples of what you have done and explain how and why they worked for you.

Follow these tips and you will not only generate additional media attention for your community but offer other areas the benefit of your experience and knowledge as well.

DCI Releases “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” Survey

Texas, North Carolina and Georgia have the best business climates among the 50 states, according to a recent survey of executives by Development Counsellors International.

North Carolina ranked second among the 281 respondents, with 30 percent saying the state has the best business climate.

Texas was No. 1 among 41 percent of survey participants, while Georgia was third (20 percent). They were followed by Tennessee and Florida (15 percent each) and Nevada (14 percent).

Executives frequently cited a strong labor market and low operating costs in selecting the top states.

The poll placed California, New York and Michigan at the bottom.

China, India and Mexico were selected as the top countries outside the U.S. for investment.

Development Counsellors’ “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” survey has tracked development trends since 1996. This is the first year respondents were asked to rank the business favorability of the world's 25 largest countries outside the U.S.

"With the battle for business more intense than ever, states and their economic development organizations need to pay close attention to the results of this survey," said DCI President Andrew T. Levine. "Whether accurate or misguided, perceptions about a location's business climate often play a crucial role in site selection decisions and where companies invest money and create jobs."

The comprehensive survey also asked a series of questions to divine the most effective economic development marketing tools, the leading sources of information that influence executive perceptions of a community's business climate and the most important factors in business location decisions.

Considered the leader in marketing places, Development Counsellors International (DCI) specializes in economic development and tourism marketing. The agency has worked for more than 350 cities, regions, states and countries since it was established in New York City in 1960.

For a free copy of the full "Winning Strategies" survey report or an executive summary, visit www.aboutdci.com/winningstrategies.aspx.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Was KC a pawn to Bombardier?

The Kansas City Star

Last year, it was the failed effort to woo the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Sprint Center. Last weekend, it was Bombardier Aerospace deciding to assemble a new line of jets in Montreal.

While casual observers may believe Kansas City was used as a pawn by Montreal-based Bombardier merely to extract more concessions from Canada, experts say that’s not really the way it works.

“Typically, these projects are very competitive,” said Jonathan Sangster, a senior manager at CBRE Consulting in Atlanta. “People don’t have time to waste going through these motions.”

And sometimes the Kansas City area wins in the corporate recruitment process.

In 1996, for example, Kansas City edged out Omaha, Neb., and Louisville, Ky., for a coveted Harley-Davidson motorcycle plant. Farmers Insurance Group picked Olathe over Oklahoma City and Phoenix two years ago for a 950-person service center, and the Los Angeles-based firm now has 2,000 total employees in the area.

Sangster has been in the national site selection business for 10 years, participating in more than 125 deals. Not once has he experienced a situation where the company already had made a decision and was only going through the motions to up the ante for incentives. More here.

Tennessee drives for bigger automotive stake

Tennessee landed its first automobile assembly plants in the 1980s, but over the past two decades the Volunteer State has watched the next nine major Southern car plants go to neighboring states, including three assembly plants and an engine plant to Alabama.

Last week’s announcement that Volkswagen picked Chattanooga over Huntsville, Ala., for a $1 billion production facility again should secure Tennessee’s top automotive position in the region, some say.

But U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who as governor a generation ago recruited both Nissan and General Motors’ Saturn automobile assembly plants, has much grander dreams for Tennessee’s automotive industry.

“This decision by Volkswagen, in my opinion, means that Tennessee is on its way within a generation to being the No. 1 state in America in terms of automobile jobs,” Sen. Alexander said. “When an assembly plant arrives, the supplier and their jobs are not far behind.”

Sen. Alexander said Tennessee “is right in the middle” of the Southeast, where most of the new automobile plants have been built in the past 25 years, and should be able to attract many more.

Gov. Phil Bredesen and his chief economic recruiter said they will continue to recruit auto plants. But the two cautioned against putting too much focus on the typically cyclical industry.

“There comes a point with this industry — I don’t think we’re there yet, maybe another auto plant we would be — where it becomes too much,” Gov. Bredesen said.

The governor pointed to Michigan, the home and headquarters of American auto manufacturers, which has been hit hard by a steady erosion of jobs at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Last month, Michigan had the highest jobless rate in the nation at 8.5 percent. By comparison, unemployment in Tennessee averaged 6.5 percent in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I don’t want us to be in a position where Michigan has gotten itself over the years where your whole state economy is dependent on one sector,” Gov. Bredesen said.

Long way to go
Tennessee, which ranked No. 4 in car production in 2006, still has a long way to catch up with Michigan, which placed first in both car and truck manufacturing jobs and output. Michigan still produces three times more vehicles than Tennessee and has far more suppliers and automotive design businesses.

“I don’t know that Tennessee would ever bypass Michigan, but I think the South probably will over time,” said Ed McCallum, an automotive site selection consultant who has written about the Southern migration of America’s automobile industry. “It’s just easier and cheaper to make cars and trucks in the South.”

Earlier this year, Volkswagen moved its North American headquarters from suburban Detroit to Herndon, Va., just outside Washington. Stefan Jacoby, president of Volkswagen of America, said the ongoing problems at the Detroit-based automakers played a role in his decision to relocate the headquarters.

“We originally moved our headquarters to Detroit from New Jersey because we wanted to be one of the Big Three,” he said. “But if those competitors are shrinking and restructuring, maybe it’s not so good to be near them anymore.”

Less than half
Matt Kisber, commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said the Bredesen administration’s strategy is to maintain less than half of the manufacturing work force concentrated in the automotive industry “to assure that we have a balanced economy.”

“We don’t want to become too heavily dependent on any one sector,” he said.
Currently, 31 percent of state manufacturing jobs are in or in some way support the automotive industry, according to state data.

Gov. Bredesen and Mr. Kisber underscored that they now are working hard to recruit supplier companies for Volkswagen to the Chattanooga area.

“These are good jobs,” Gov. Bredesen said of Volkswagen. “They’re a mix of white-collar and blue-collar jobs. They will bring a lot of other jobs to the region.”

Research opportunities
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., founder of the Tennessee Valley Technology Corridor, said he hopes the South’s growing number of automobile plants also will spur more research and engineering facilities in the region for the automotive industry.

“We can parlay this investment (by VW in Chattanooga) into a major next-generation advanced transportation research center on biodiesel in Chattanooga,” he said. “Oak Ridge is the center for biofuels research, and we had a summit last summer in Greenville, S.C., of the ICAR (International Center for Automotive Research) partnership with Clemson University. We’ve been working on this for 12 years.”

Gov. Bredesen emphasized that he does not believe Tennessee is anywhere near the saturation point in the auto industry.

“I don’t think it would be healthy for the state to have four more auto plants here,” he said. “But we don’t have four more in the works. One more is fine, and we’re going to continue to recruit on that.”

Staff writer Herman Wang contributed to this report.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Publicity Differs From Advertising

There is often confusion about the distinction between publicity and advertising.

Publicity, which can include information about an event, individual or product, appears as a news item or feature story in the mass media. Material is submitted to the news department at a TV station, or an editor at a magazine or newspaper, by someone who wants to get the word out about their company. Then the journalists determine whether the material can be utilized as a stand-alone news story, or incorporated into an existing news story.

Advertising, on the other hand, is paid space in a print publication, such as in a magazine or newspaper, or broadcast time. As in a commercial, an organization writes the copy, decides the graphics and overall look, and controls when and where the advertisement will run.

While publicity and advertising can work nicely hand- in-hand, many small EDO's can't afford advertising. An ad in a national site selection magazine can cost $2,500 (or significantly more depending on size) to place, and you may reach 25,000 people.

Applying that money to a PR campaign - by supporting your community through regular communication with the media, can generate ongoing editorial coverage for your community or organization. E-newsletters are another inexpensive way to distribute news on your community or region.

Very often, one public relations-generated media placement can have an advertising equivalency that far exceeds the value of a small ad. And, studies show that consumers have more trust in what they read or see as editorial coverage, versus what they are told in advertising.

A whaling city sets about recasting its gritty image

New Bedford officials promote the region's potential with developers
By Robert Preer, Globe Correspondent / July 10, 2008

NEW BEDFORD - This old whaling city has a growing community of artists, lofts carved out of old mills, cobblestone streets, a picturesque harbor, and stunning views from its coastline.

This is the image local leaders want to project of New Bedford, rather than what some may associate with the city: illegal immigration, gang violence, sensational crimes, and industrial pollution.

Now New Bedford officials are making the hard sell, trying to convince developers and investors that it is a choice location in which to start or to relocate a business.

"If you are looking for waterfront, you are talking about New Bedford," Mayor Scott W. Lang told about 70 real estate professionals who had assembled last month for a tour and conference on the city's development possibilities. "You won't find a more willing partner. You won't find a better location. You won't find a better workforce."

Like many older cities in Massachusetts, New Bedford has struggled to recover from the collapse of its 19th- and early 20th-century mill industries and a subsequent influx of crime, poverty, and other urban ills.

"It's an uphill struggle for a city like New Bedford, in part, because of the competition from the suburban towns around it," said Stephen C. Smith, executive director of the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, the planning agency for the south coast region.

Last year, New Bedford lost out to nearby suburban Middleborough in the bidding to host a casino planned by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. New Bedford does have some important assets in its efforts to lure private development. It is well positioned on the regional highway grid, criss-crossed by Interstate 195 and Route 140. New Bedford is about 30 miles from Cape Cod, Providence, and Newport, R.I., and 50 miles from Boston. A ferry runs from the State Pier to Martha's Vineyard, and Cape Air flies out of New Bedford's airport.

Already in place is the core of a tourist industry, focused on the city's past as the whaling capital of the world. The National Park Service opened the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in 1996, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum draws tens of thousands of visitors annually. The city has an extensive waterfront, large sections of which are open to development. The fishing fleet consists of over 300 boats, which in addition to being a major economic engine also provide a colorful backdrop for potential tourism initiatives.

"This is a working harbor and a working waterfront, but it still has plenty of room for cafes and restaurants and sailboats," said Mark C. Montigny, a Democrat who represents New Bedford in the state Senate.

Educational institutions have become important in New Bedford's rebound. Bristol Community College and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth both have campuses here, with the UMass College of Visual and Performing Arts - housed in what had long been a vacant downtown store - at the center of a growing arts scene.

A moderately priced seafood restaurant is opening this summer on the waterfront, next to the site of a planned Fairfield Inn & Suites by the Marriott hotel chain. Plans also are moving forward for reconstruction of the section of Route 18 that divides the waterfront from downtown. Under the plans, the road would become a pedestrian-friendly boulevard.
City officials are working with state economic development specialists to interest developers in several key waterfront sites, including a long vacant power plant where a large oceanarium had once been planned.

MassDevelopment president Robert L. Culver said New Bedford has "50 to 100 acres of developable land that is some of the most prime locations anywhere on the East Coast." The state agency he oversees offers financial backing for development projects and also provides technical and marketing assistance.

Still, New Bedford has much to overcome. Crime, including gang and youth violence, has been a problem. Last month, there was a stabbing after an antiviolence concert at the Zeiterion Theatre, which has been a key facility in the city's arts revival. The immigration raid at the Michael Bianco Inc. textile factory in 2007 exposed the existence of a large exploited underclass of undocumented workers.

New Bedford has other problems common to older cities: an aging housing stock that includes many run-down triple-deckers; and a legacy of industrial pollution, including the PCB contamination of New Bedford Harbor, which was declared a Superfund site in 1983. Its cleanup is ongoing. The city has about 150 acres of contaminated brownfields.

Officials also have been frustrated in efforts to get commuter rail extended to the city. The latest plan by Governor Deval L. Patrick's administration would start rail service in 2016, although neither a route nor funding for the $1.4 billion project has been identified.

Meanwhile, developers who attended the recent conference voiced enthusiasm for the city and its campaign.

"This is a finely tuned effort that is well thought out and very thorough," said Mark Dickinson, a Quincy developer who is redeveloping an old mill building here.

Robert Preer can be reached at preer@globe.com.

Nissan's long-awaited move to Cool Springs

Monday is move-in day for Nissan at its new $100 million North American headquarters in Cool Springs.

But not all 1,500 employees and contractors will move into the building at once.

The Japanese automaker will start with the 250 employees in its information-services department, then transfer about 250 more workers each Monday through Aug. 18, when the relocation is expected to be complete, spokeswoman Julie Lawless said.

Construction on the 10-story, 450,000-square-foot building began in June 2006. The move-in is the culmination of Nissan North America Inc.'s massive corporate relocation from Southern California, which began with an announcement in late 2005 that Nashville had been chosen as the company's new home.

The first group of workers to move spent Thursday packing up in their cubicles at the AT&T Building in downtown Nashville, the company's temporary home, in preparation for the jaunt to their new digs.

"Movers will take everything to their new cubes over the weekend, so when they come to work Monday morning, they'll be ready to go," Lawless said.

Over the weekend, construction workers were to put the final touches on the building's lobby and exterior, as well as the floors that will be used by the early arrivers. On Thursday, they were installing the front doors.

"We're moving in floor-by-floor," Lawless said.

Marketing, communications and product-planning people — including Lawless — will be among the next group to move, on July 14.

The building will be mostly finished by July 22, when Nissan plans a full day of activities to dedicate the facility and celebrate the move.

Nissan Motor Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn will be on hand, along with other top executives and state and local political leaders, for the dedication, the company said.

Also on the 50-acre campus is a new four-story, 1,135-space parking garage, which Nissan chose to build instead of "paving over all the green space" for surface parking lots, Lawless said.

"As much as possible, we wanted to preserve the beauty of the land, and that would have been hard with parking lots all over it," she said.

There are about 300 outdoor parking spaces, though.

The company preserved a 2.5-acre area of wetlands, planting native grasses, bushes and trees and creating a small wildlife sanctuary. Already, ducks, geese, deer and other animals have taken up residence, Lawless said.

On Wednesday, the new Carothers Parkway, which runs north to south in front of the Nissan building, was opened to traffic, creating a link to the new McEwen Interchange on Interstate 65. That road will serve the headquarters and other offices and businesses in the area, said Pat Emery, whose company, Crescent Resources, built the office park adjacent to Nissan and who sold the land for the building to the automaker.

The arrival of 1,500 Nissan workers will spur growth of other businesses in the area, especially restaurants and retail shops, said David Baker, a partner in Baker Storey McDonald commercial developers and brokers.

Had gasoline prices hit the $4 mark 10 years ago, the development probably wouldn't have happened, Emery said. But now that there is so much in Cool Springs, and plenty of land for more housing, the high gas prices shouldn't have any effect, he said. The company is pushing for more mass-transit service, he added.

Nissan has kept the new building off-limits to its headquarters workers, and would not allow news photographers inside the building even as it was nearing completion this week.

"We don't want to spoil the surprise for our employees," Lawless said. "We want them to walk in the first day and go, 'Wow!' "

The building has a cafeteria and coffee shop, and the cafeteria will be open with a limited menu on Monday, she said. By July 21, it will be in full operation.

On the first floor will be a Nissan and Infiniti merchandise store, a conference room, and a large lobby where Nissan vehicles will be on display.

Contact G. Chambers Williams III at 259-8076 or cwilliams1@tennessean.com.

Logo sells city to businesses, visitors

Staff Writer

MEDINA — The City of Medina, Ohio: Preserving the Past. Forging the Future.
For outsiders looking in, this is Medina’s new identity and starting point for a three-part branding campaign for the city.

After putting three logos and four taglines before the public for a vote, these were the two chosen, said Nancy van Alphen, of Savvy Marketing International LLC.

A logo is often a picture, sometimes coupled with a few words, that is able to stand on its own. A tagline is usually a phrase, sometimes very short, that is supplementary to the logo.

The process started months ago when the marketing company told residents about the logo and tagline, seeking any feedback and input about why they love the city. About 12 logos and taglines were created by Savvy Marketing incorporating that feedback, van Alphen said.

They were narrowed down to three logos and four taglines, which were voted on by residents at the end of May.

“Medina is in a very unique position where we have an image of being a very quaint place to live and work … a charming place. But we’re also very progressive,” van Alphen said. “So we want to get that point across, but also don’t want to lose our heritage. We’re not changing our identity, we’re adding to it.”

Van Alphen said this campaign, which was set in motion by city Economic Development Director Tom Krueger, was mainly meant to put Medina on the map for businesses looking for a new home, not just families interested in moving to the area.

“We just want businesses that are thinking of moving here to know that it is a solid place for them to do business,” van Alphen said. “This was the first step of the campaign and it will really help give their campaign direction.”

This portion of the process cost $2,600 while the price for the next two steps, which include a strategic plan for implementation and creating a new city Web site, have not been determined, Krueger has said.

While the city will take over the project from here, Savvy Marketing, at no cost to the city, is creating new business cards and letterhead with the logo and tagline and a Flash logo, which is a moving logo that will appear on the Web site and in any other electronic applications the city may choose to use it for, van Alphen said.

“More and more cities are looking at themselves as a business … they have to because they are competing with each other for business,” she said. “Our specialization is in branding and positioning and strategy. My motto is basically, don’t spend a dollar on marketing until you have a strategy in place. We can do that for not only cities, but for any business that is out there looking to develop an image for themselves or looking for a particular audience to sell their services and products to … and get the correct message across to that audience.”

Van Alphen added: “We are very proud to be a part of this campaign because we’ve lived here for seven years now and we love Medina and we love the dichotomy of the city.”

Shofar may be reached at 330-721-4044 or cshofar@ohio.net.

Area's flacks find new ways to sell region

By Darrell Hughes - dhughes@thesunnews.com

Success is all about selling yourself these days - and marketing has always been key. Yet economic development groups along the Grand Strand are recognizing that effectively selling yourself costs money.

The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. doubled its marketing budget for 2008-2009 to $70,000 with hopes of tweaking its image.

Meanwhile, Brunswick County Economic Development Commission and the Georgetown County Economic Development Department aren't increasing their budgets, but they're stretching their dollars.

"The economy is in a weird state right now and the regions are getting more competitive," said Lauren Morris, Myrtle Beach Regional corporation's spokeswoman. "Anything we can do to set ourselves apart is important."

The corporation wants to refine and craft the city's professional image, Morris said. The corporation's next move will be revamping its Web site, www.myrtle beachdevelopment.com.
"The world's on the Web," she said.

An integrated, easy-to-use Web site could attract new and diverse industries, Morris explained.
For the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, perfecting its Web site has been an on-going project since day one, director Jim Bradshaw said.

The commission is now working to present its marketing material in a quality package, filled with abundant information that isn't too expensive to produce and reproduce. The commission has a budget of $20,000 to $25,000, Bradshaw said.

The commission is likely to begin downloading the county's marketing brochures, a presentation and statistical information on USB memory sticks, he said.

Companies "really enjoy the USB presentations," Bradshaw said. "And with that, it's only one memory clip and it has all these brochures and everything, and [the companies] can pick and choose what they want and print it out at their site."

The USB memory sticks should save the commission money on printing costs, Bradshaw said. The 200 memory sticks were purchased for $15 apiece. "It's got a good amount of memory. And of course the mailing cost is less."

Georgetown County's Economic Development Commission has about the same size budget as Brunswick County, but director Wayne Gregory said his commission's marketing strategy is to target industries at conferences and via private meetings.

The Georgetown County commission's budget is dependent on the county's budget, which is limited because of rising costs and declines in tax revenue, but Gregory said he's making do.
Gregory said quality representation is essential, but "it's not about how much you have or how much you spend."

Contact DARRELL HUGHES at 626-0364.

New Braunfels unveils new logo, brand name for economic development efforts

New Braunfels officials have rebranded their economic development public-private partnership "Build NB" in order to further establish the city as a place where companies can relocate or expand.

Build NB is the partnership between the City of New Braunfels, the Greater New Braunfels Economic Development Foundation and the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce. It was first founded four years ago.

The rebranding effort should better represent both the public and private entities that fund marketing initiatives as well as more effectively communicate local recruitment efforts.

"We want the current/future citizens and business owners to have a one-stop location for all of their economic development questions and needs," says Matt Harrison, president of the city-appointed New Braunfels Industrial Development Corp.

A new logo for Build NB has been developed and will be integrated into all marketing materials throughout the next year. The new logo will also be promoted on the group's updated Web site (www.buildnb.org), which should debut in the fall of 2008.

"While rebranding the name itself, the services provided and operations will remain unchanged," says Barry Williams, chairman of the Greater New Braunfels Economic Development Foundation. "The community's same economic development staff is committed to serving and communicating with our customers, but now in a more cohesive approach."

Build NB is overseen by a city-appointed board that allocates sales tax dollars for economic development purposes. The foundation works to oversee private investor dollars.

Web site: www.buildnb.com

Friday, July 18, 2008

Teamwork, time, charm lure businesses to Pee Dee

By Candace Jarrett
Morning News ReporterPublished: July 12, 2008

First came the announcement June 3 that H.J. Heinz Co. would building a new frozen foods production facility in Florence, bringing 350 jobs.

Three weeks later, Monster announced it was establishing its North America customer service call center in Florence, bringing 750 jobs.

While it may appear to people on the outside that the announcements were quick and unexpected, those on the inside of both deals say they took a great deal of time, communication and Southern charm.

“The whole economic development process is a team sport,” said Joe W. King, executive director of the Florence Economic Development Partnership. “We’d been working on them both for a while.

“I think our training facilities already in place, along with our work force, the existing industry in the area, our medical facilities and our infrastructure — the roads and bridges and highway access — all impressed the executives at Monster and Heinz.”

Both companies combined are expected to bring right at $133 million in investments to Florence County.

But how did it all come together? More here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rural Council Shows Success In Economic Growth

Back in 1997, the rural economy in Loudoun was suffering and the board of supervisors formed a task force, charged with the assignment of bolstering the industry. Out of that task force came the Rural Economic Development Council, which set a goal of increasing the rural economy by 100 percent with 10 years.

Yesterday, representatives from the council and those who sat on the task force told the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors that the rural economy had grown by a total of 154 percent.

"We did it. We did reach the goal," Warren M. Howell. Jr., Manager for Innovative Economic Development for the Department of Rural Economic Development, said. "We still have a fair amount of land left. It's not 200,000 acres, but it's close.

"The rural economic development plan was named The 200,000-Acre Solution, for the estimated amount of acreage in Loudoun's rural area.

In 1997, the rural economy had $26 million in agricultural sales and 185,000 acres in farms. By 2007, agricultural sales had reached $67.9 million, with only 144,000 agricultural acres."We lost close to 21,000 acres between 2000 and 2005. We have suffered the loss of some agriculture there," Howell said. More here.

HQ decision: MillerCoors incentives top $23M

The Business Journal of Milwaukee - by David Schuyler

MillerCoors LLC will receive financial incentives and tax breaks that could be worth more than $23 million from the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago in return for placing their headquarters in Chicago.

The greatest share of that package by far comes in the form of Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) corporate income tax credits valued at approximately $17.5 million over 15 years, according to the Illinois agency responsible for administering the state package.

The value of the tax credits is approximate because they are based on levels of job creation, said Ashley Cross, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

MillerCoors expects to have 300 to 400 employees at its downtown Chicago headquarters when the office is fully established. The jobs will be transferred from Miller Brewing Co.'s existing corporate headquarters in Milwaukee and from Coors Brewing Co.'s headquarters in Golden, Colo. The two brewers -- the nation's second and third-largest beer producers -- merged to form MillerCoors July 1.

The state of Illinois is also offering a business development grant, from the state's Large Business Development Program, of $500,000 to cover some upfront capital costs, Cross said. A work force training grant of $325,000, through the state's Employer Training Investment Program, will also be offered over a period of two years.

The city of Chicago is offering aid in the form of tax incremental financing, or TIF district. The value of the TIF will depend on where MillerCoors decides to locate -- a site decision is expected to occur within the next few months. The assistance could be worth anywhere from $2.5 million to $5 million, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune citing the executive director of World Business Chicago, a nonprofit economic development organization. A spokeswoman for the group decline to verify those figures Wednesday, saying that the value will depend on where the company locates. Nonetheless, the TIF will require the approval of the Chicago City Council.

While the incentives did play a role in attracting MillerCoors to Chicago, the decision was still largely based on the city being a center for the marketing industry, a hub of international travel and an area with a large pool of talent, said Julian Green, MillerCoors spokesman.

Miller has a marketing office in Chicago with about 25 employees, and several of MillerCoors' key ad agencies are based in, or have major offices in, the city.

"Both (Miller and Coors) are marketing companies," Green said. "The desire to win the beer battle requires marketing."

Chicago's connections to international destinations -- MillerCoors is a venture of SABMiller in London and Molson Coors Brewing Co., which as a major office in Montreal, was also a major factor.

"We're a global beer company that's doing business all over the world," said Green.

Place Branding: A Winning Economic Development Strategy

By: Nicholas J. Vehr
Vehr Communications

Competition is fierce. Buyers have choices. Buyers choose “brands” that promise them something and then deliver on the promise. And, we’re not just talking about soap!

In today’s “flatter world,” competition is increasing for cities and regions as well - competition to attract and retain talented workers and the businesses that employ them. Talent increasingly chooses place over profession and perceptions of place – the promise it offers to “me” – influences choice. So, place matters.

In economic development terms, place branding matters. E.D. professionals play to win. Place branding is finding its place in their tool box because it works; it helps to differentiate their “place” in ways that matter most to today’s enlightened work force.

Place branding helps to stimulate and organize community consensus, motivate collective action, inspire emotion and awaken pride … qualities that matter to workers who yearn to be “someplace” rather than “anyplace.”

As consumer and business brand experts have taught us, there are principles and processes that make it work. We offer the following as they apply to place branding.

Place Branding Principles:

Be Purposeful: a region or city must a have a reason to invest the time, energy and resources to do it right. Corporate attraction and retention, talent recruitment, tourism promotion and convention and meetings attraction are common reasons.

Be Truthful: you are who you are. Branding can’t and won’t change it. You can, though, emphasize strengths or minimize weaknesses in authentic and believable ways.

Be Future-Focused: People aspire for the better day. Give them hope to find it in your “place.”

Commit to the Process: It takes time. It takes patience. It takes research, formal and informal. It requires all voices and views to be at the table from the beginning, even those with whom you don’t agree.

Be Creative: Translating how your “place” is different may require using your brain differently. Let experts engage you in creative explorations that pull out hidden truths, ideas and inspirations and amplifies known ones. Accept that getting to the end may not follow the straight line you have come to expect in your business.

Be Patient: Use a calendar, not a watch, to measure success. The process takes time. Once you get to a creative execution, it takes time to encourage others with whom you have little or not control to adopt and apply. Once you reach critical mass, it takes time to convey the message.

Be Disciplined: Place branding requires the discipline to be creative, to speak with clarity and to do it consistently over time. Of course, whether you are reaching your audiences can and should be measured, qualitatively and quantitatively.

Place Branding Process

Entire books have been written about the process of branding products and services. Publications specifically about place branding have been around for a decade or more. A simple web search on “place branding” provides many options.

As for specifics, it depends. What’s the budget? What’s the purpose? Who’s the target? How broad is the effort? How many NGOs are included? Are your elected officials involved? Can you get some pro bono support from marketing experts in your market with place branding experience?

These are all factors, and there are others. This is an area in which you really need professional guidance. You need someone who can oversee and direct the process and advise the leaders of the effort at critical junctures.

Place branding shows community caring, cohesion and commitment; qualities that matter to workers who are in the position to make choices. In an increasingly competitive and “flatter” world, it can be the difference between winning and losing to grow a regional economy.

For more information, please contact Nick Vehr at nvehr@ vehrcommunications.com. Nick is the President of Vehr Communications and a team member of KMK Consulting.