Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marketing Team To Sell Valleys Economic Assets

With a deadline for the first request due Friday, the staff at this city’s economic development corporation spent the past week finalizing a proposal designed to bring new jobs to the region.

The request for proposals - aimed at a company looking to locate an advanced manufacturing plant somewhere in the country - was the first in a series of requests that should keep Rio Grande Valley economic development officials busy the next few weeks as they prepare site plans and presentations to try to attract new investment in their corner of the world.

The mock requests for proposals - similar to what officials would prepare when trying to draw a real company to the Valley - Marketing Strategy are part of a complete marketing effort designed to make the Valley more attractive to key industry targets.An economic development marketing team was hired last month to come up with a comprehensive, Valley-wide marketing strategy to draw more development to the region.

The strategy is the first major project for the Rio South Texas Economic Council, an alliance of local governments in all four Valley counties that was formed last year with the intent of expanding economic development efforts through a regional approach.

The mock exercise is a way for the marketing team to test the recruiting efforts of the local economic development officials while also gauging the assets of the region, said Ramiro Garza, the director of the Edinburg Economic Development Corp. Even though a winning proposal won’t draw anything more than a pat on the back in the short term, Garza said they’re treating the exercise like the real deal.

The plan is to develop a marketing strategy that operates first and foremost to draw large companies to the Valley by promoting it as a metropolitan area, said Bill Martin, the director of the Harlingen Economic Development Corp.To narrow down the types of industry the council should focus on, the marketing team will spend weeks compiling economic data, conducting interviews with companies already located in the Valley and touring the region.

Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, the chairman of the council, said the group’s members expect the marketing team to give them both the good news and the bad news about the area.When the requests for proposals are completed, Gemmen said, the economic council will have its own portfolio of shovel-ready sites it can use in its marketing efforts to help the Valley stand out among competitors from other regions.

Marketing Strategy A regional approach to economic development has become more common as areas such as South Texas have realized that corporations tend to ignore geographic boundary lines, said Audrey Taylor, the president of Chabin Concepts. The marketing team’s goal will be to package and position the Valley to key industries that should be looking at the area.

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