Sunday, August 30, 2009

Small Country, Big Brands

by Barry Silverstein
August 24, 2009 issue

In a February 2009 ranking of Swiss brands by Interbrand, the top five brands were, in order of brand value, Nescafé, UBS, Nestlé, Credit Suisse and Zurich. Other globally recognized brands in the top 20 included Rolex, Omega, Lindt, Swatch and Longines.

How did a tiny country largely known for keeping to itself become such a branding powerhouse? It starts with Switzerland’s view of its own brand.

The inherent value of “Swiss made” brands is so high that the country’s government is currently considering new laws to protect it: “The government wants to replace vague laws with concrete rules to crack down on abuses of ‘made in Switzerland’ and Swiss cross labels” (“Protecting ‘Swiss made’ brand divides opinion,”, April 6, 2008). The movement is known in Switzerland as “the legislation project Swissness.”

Interestingly, the notion of “Swissness” is a cause for concern among some Swiss brands. New laws being considered would potentially make it legal to use the well-known Swiss cross (white on a red field) as a marketing tool but restrict the Swiss coat of arms to government use only. Victorinox, maker of the Swiss Army Knife, has used both the Swiss cross and the coat of arms for 100 years. Touring Club Switzerland has used the coat of arms since 1896. Their brands would be directly affected if this new rule were to be implemented.

The fact that the Swiss government is wrestling with revising its intellectual property laws says something: This is a country that clearly understands the value of branding. In fact, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) publishes a comprehensive corporate identity manual for Brand Switzerland because “a focused and strong brand definition is necessary for successful positioning in the international market.” The FDFA sees Switzerland’s values and character as moving from the present characteristics, “reliable, precise, exclusive, rich, beautiful, and neutral,” to the future characteristics, “trustworthy, premium quality, and authentic.”

More here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fond du Lac tries to keep Mercury Marine headquarters

Fond du Lac officials are presenting a united front in an attempt to convince Mercury Marine to keep its corporate headquarters in the Fox Valley, even if more than 800 manufacturing jobs are shifted to Stillwater, Okla.

Mercury Marine president Mark Schwabero plans to meet today with leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 1947, the labor union for manufacturing employees at the Fond du Lac-based company.

The company said it will be willing to listen to overtures by the union until midnight on Saturday, Aug. 29. However, the company has said it will not alter the terms of its final offer, which was overwhelmingly rejected by union workers on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a joint statement was issued today by Allen Buechel, Fond du Lac County executive; Tom Herre, Fond du Lac city manager; and Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, president, Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corp.:

"Emotions are running high throughout Fond du Lac County and the City of Fond du Lac today as we look at the possibility of life, for the first time in a long while, without Mercury Marine as our largest employer. The recent developments may permanently alter the corporate landscape and economic climate of our city, county, region and state.

"As we look to our future, it is important that we take a look at the events leading up to today. Conversations first began with Mercury Marine this past spring, and those of us at the table were asking the same soul-searching questions others have been asking and having the same conversations. Is the company being fair? Is this truly the only option?

"We did our homework and our due diligence and know without a doubt that doing all we can to keep Mercury Marine in the location in which it has flourished is the right thing to do - not just for the company - but for our people, communities, our county and the State of Wisconsin.

"The process which took place proved the earnest motivations of those at the table. There were many points along the timeline where the potential existed for the process to take another direction, but everyone worked together to show that the city, the county, the state and all involved were sincere about keeping Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac. We worked closely with the company throughout the past several months to develop a total incentive package that would have assured Mercury Marine stay in Fond du Lac for a minimum of 12 years. This package included new engine development; the relocation of the Stillwater Oklahoma manufacturing positions to Fond du Lac; and an incentive payment to IAM workers. Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation worked with the State of Wisconsin, Fond du
Lac County and the City of Fond du Lac to build two legs of the three-legged stool.

Unfortunately, the third leg wasn’t able to be put into place. This is not the fault of any single entity. The marine industry has changed significantly due to the economic downturn, and some tough decisions have had to be made all around. Now, we need to look forward.

"While the possibility does exist for the retention of manufacturing jobs through midnight on Saturday, Aug. 29, our focus must now be on the future. Our efforts will be directed to keeping the corporate headquarters of Mercury Marine - and the 800 associated jobs - here in Fond du Lac. We are planning to present a package to the company that addresses this important goal. Beyond this, know that we will continue the effective economic development strategies and programs we have in place, fully support efforts to grow our existing business and bring in new business, and work together to come out of this stronger than before.

"As we focus our energies on how we move forward from here, we ask that everyone affected by this do the same and to stay positive. This is not a time to be divided by opinion, but to be united as we all work together for the future of the City of Fond du Lac and Fond du Lac County."

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said he is "disappointed by the vote. Mercury Marine is offering a remarkable opportunity to consolidate hundreds of jobs here in Wisconsin." Read more in BizTimes Milwaukee's daily roundup of headlines from newspapers across the state at

Oregon Looks to Clean Tech for Revival


HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Oregon, facing the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, has stepped up its campaign to lure clean-technology companies in an effort to pull itself out of the recession.

The Oregon Business Development Department's network of about 45 economic-development officials has more than doubled the time spent reaching out to clean-tech companies since 2008, said Bruce Laird, clean-tech recruitment officer in the department. In February, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski assembled a group of industry leaders to help the state compete for federal stimulus dollars for clean-tech projects. And this month, he vetoed legislation that would have reduced tax breaks for clean-energy companies.

The endeavors come as Oregon tries to repair its battered economy. With declines in its key computer-manufacturing and timber industries, the state's 11.9% unemployment rate in July trailed only Michigan, Nevada and Rhode Island. In June, the state slashed its 2009-11 budget by $3.2 billion, or nearly 20%. Capturing clean tech is "viewed as essential for Oregon's economic recovery," Mr. Laird said.

While acknowledging a "greater sense of urgency" currently, Mark Brady, the sustainable development liaison in the Business Development Department, pointed out that the state's efforts date to at least 2005.

As a result, Oregon's incentives for attracting clean-tech firms -- those that make alternative energy or energy-efficient products -- are among the most aggressive in the nation. The state's business energy tax credit funds 50% of a renewable-energy manufacturing facility's cost, up to a total credit of $20 million per project. That dwarfs similar incentives in states such as Hawaii, which caps credits at $2 million, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. From 2006 to mid-2009, Oregon spent $386 million on tax credits for clean-tech companies, according to the state Energy Department.

"Oregon is one of the top three states in the country in terms of growing its clean-energy economy" along with Colorado and Tennessee, said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. Global Warming campaign, a nonprofit that is part of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

According to a recent Pew study, Oregon had 19,000 clean-tech jobs in 2007, up 50% from 1998. About one of every 100 workers in Oregon works in the clean-tech industry, the largest percentage in the nation.

Oregon is particularly playing up its roots in computer manufacturing to attract clean-tech companies. That is because many skills used to make solar cells are akin to those used in computer manufacturing, said Desari Strader, executive director of the Oregon Solar Energies Industry Association, a trade group. Workers that have lost computer-manufacturing jobs need little training to begin in solar manufacturing, she said.

These days, such workers abound: As of June, employment in Oregon's computer and electronic manufacturing industry was down 6,000 workers from 2007 to 34,600, according to the state Labor Department.

Tony Caywood's career symbolizes that shift. In 1998, the technician was laid off by Japanese chip maker Komatsu Ltd., which shut its manufacturing site here in this Portland suburb that year. Oregon later offered $40 million in tax incentives to German solar-cell maker SolarWorld AG, which bought Komatsu's vacant plant in 2006.

Today, Mr. Caywood is back to work in the same building -- this time, making parts for SolarWorld's solar panels. "I never thought I'd be right back here," said Mr. Caywood, 51 years old, adding that he uses similar techniques to make solar cells as he did for chips.

Still, Oregon faces challenges as other states compete to expand their clean-tech industries. Oregon particularly lags in receiving venture-capital investment for clean tech, garnering $70 million in clean-tech venture funding between 2006 and 2008. That is in contrast to California, which led the nation with $6.5 billion, or Texas, No. 3 in the nation at $716 million, according to the Pew study. Overall, Oregon has 1,600 clean-tech businesses, fewer than Florida's 3,800 and New York's 3,300, according to the study.

Oregon's incentives weren't enough to secure Schott AG subsidiary Schott Solar Inc. The solar company last year chose to put a solar-component-making plant in New Mexico instead of Oregon. Chief Executive Gerald Fine said New Mexico gave the company a $14 million cash outlay and other financial incentives that he declined to detail. "We clearly thought the state of Oregon had a number of advantages," but "a financial analysis made the decision for us," Mr. Fine said.

SolarWorld, however, said Oregon's $40 million in tax credits, its trained work force and environmentally friendly policies helped it choose the state over Washington and California in 2006. Today, the company has about 500 workers in the old Komatsu plant and expects to double that work force by 2011.

"Oregon up to this point has been great," said Gordon Brinser, vice president of operations at SolarWorld Industries America.

Write to Ryan Knutson at

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A5, August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Best Practices in Regional & Local Economic Development

Taimerica Management Commpany conducted an analysis of “best practices” in regional and local economic development during April-May 2009

Thirty “benchmark” organizations were identified to survey and interview. The development organizations were selected based on their reputations in the development industry, national awards they had received, reputations within the site selection industry, Taimerica’s consulting experience, and past growth that was above the national average for similar sized communities. Budget and salary information was collected for twelve regional organizations and subsidiaries they control, and from their IRS tax returns. This data was supplemented with a survey of Best Practices for the same organizations.

Eleven of the thirteen regional organizations completed some portions of the survey while six completed the entire instrument. For the local EDOs, thirteen of the 18 completed some portion of the survey while seven completed all of the questions. The survey was supplemented with interviews with a subset of the regional and local EDOs to collect more detailed data and to better understand innovative practices.

The report condenses Taimarica's findings about EDOs from all three information sources: interviews, surveys, and tax returns. Profiles for regional regional EDOs are presented first, followed by profiles on local EDOs. The report ends with Taimerica's conclusions about Best Practice EDOs and what accounts for their excellent performance. More here.

Eleven Myths of Economic Development

Taimerica Management Company provides innovative answers to the location questions of states,communities and businesses worldwide.

During the course of their work they have uncovered information that sheds new light on some commonly held economic development beliefs.

Taimerica claims that our understanding of the factors that drive long term economic growth at the regional level is changing rapidly as newer data becomes available. Some of the assumptions that have governed economic development strategy over the last 30 years such as the dominant role of small business in employment growth, have been shown to be inaccurate.

Taimerica's recent article entitled "Eleven Myths of Economic Development" explores these misconceptions and provides a baseline of factual data that is critical to understanding their current reality in economic development.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

States go head-to-head to lure businesses

By Keith Matheny, USA TODAY

Las Vegas is running ads in California warning businesses they can "kiss their assets goodbye" if they stay in the Golden State.

In New Hampshire, economic development officials pick up Massachusetts business owners at the border in a limousine and give them VIP treatment and a pitch about why they should relocate there.

Indiana officials, using billboards at the borders and direct appeals to businesses in neighboring states, are inviting them to "Come on IN for lower taxes, business and housing costs."

As states struggle to keep jobs in a continuing recession, they are no longer hoping businesses in other states happen to notice their lower taxes, cheaper office space and less-stringent regulations. They are taking the message directly to them and taking shots at their neighbor's shortcomings.

"It's 'I win, you lose,' " said Philip Kotler, a marketing professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Illinois.

No one does it more unapologetically than the Nevada Development Authority. The agency has picked on California before, but its $1 million campaign, launched this month, ratchets up the mockery of California's budget deficits and IOU paychecks. "It's all done tongue-in-cheek. But the underlying deal is, we want this business," Nevada Development Authority President and CEO Somer Hollingsworth said.

Last week, California Assemblyman Jose Solorio launched a countercampaign.

"They do mask the nastiness of their message with humor, but this time, their ads are over the top," said Solorio, a Democrat from Santa Ana.

"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens in California makes the world go 'round," California's response ad states.

New Jersey's efforts to lure business from New York are as much defensive as they are offensive, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said. "It's a shrinking pie, obviously," he said.

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of Partnership for New York City, a non-profit group, says New York can't pay everybody to stay in New York, "but New Jersey can pay them to come and create a new job."

Matheny reports for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Development must focus on '2nd Georgia'

Athens Banner-Herald | Story updated at 6:23 pm on 8/22/2009

If there's one thing this state's leadership needs to take away from a recent federal court ruling on Lake Lanier, it is that metropolitan Atlanta no longer can sustain any appreciable additional economic development.

In the ruling, occasioned by the continued wrangling of the states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida over the Chattahoochee River - impounded by Lake Lanier, which supplies much of metropolitan Atlanta with water - a federal judge has given the three states three years to come up with a plan for the river. Absent the development of such a plan, metropolitan Atlanta will be scaled back to 1970s-level withdrawals from Lanier.

That would be, effectively, a "death sentence" for the metro area. And even if some agreement can be reached with Alabama and Florida officials - with whom, it should be noted, officials in Georgia's downstate also have interests in common regarding use of the Chattahoochee - that agreement is likely to shackle metropolitan Atlanta severely in terms of the immediate availability of water. That will effectively stall the metro area's growth, and more importantly, take it off the table as a viable location for business and industrial expansion and relocation.

The options that likely will be left to metropolitan Atlanta in terms of boosting its water supply will be nothing if not extremely problematic.

For example, absent some significant streamlining of federal and state permitting processes, building new reservoirs in or around the metro area will take years. Frankly, that's time the metro area can't afford in the often fast-paced world of economic development.

A second option, piping water into Atlanta from other areas of the state, will be a political minefield. For years, the perception of state legislators and other officials outside the metropolitan Atlanta area has been that their infrastructure needs have been ignored in favor of building Atlanta into an economic development hub. That dynamic has helped create what are effectively "two Georgias" - Atlanta and everywhere else.

It's a dynamic felt as close to the metro area as Athens-Clarke County, which got comparatively little state help in an ultimately failed bid to attract a federal animal-disease research laboratory last year.

Candidly, it made sense for years for the state to concentrate infrastructure development and economic development initiatives in the metropolitan Atlanta area, given its obvious dominance over the rest of the state in terms of being a transportation hub with other amenities such as conveniently located suburbs, some cultural life and a number of institutions of higher education.

In recent years, though, the metro area has become a victim of its own success, as gridlocked roadways, crowded suburbs and, now, a potentially limited water supply, serve vividly to illustrate.

It is all but a foregone conclusion that if this state is to get its share of 21st-century jobs, economic development professionals - and, by extension, state legislators - are going to have to steer any new development outside the metropolitan Atlanta area.

Interestingly enough, for much of the state outside the metro area, water is not necessarily a problem. However, much of that area is lacking in other infrastructure - four-lane roads, airports and adequately funded schools, for example - that is just as necessary for top-quality economic development.

At this point, state officials should recognize that they have a couple of choices, one of which is really no choice at all. They can fight what will, in all probability, ultimately be a losing battle to keep metropolitan Atlanta viable as a center for economic development, or they can provide areas elsewhere in the state with what they need to become viable centers for such development.

In other words, state officials can go on a quest to find water that might keep the metro area a viable development locale for a little while longer, or they can spend money and effort on other infrastructure and turn all of Georgia into an attractive location for business and industrial expansion and relocation.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Harley-Davidson considering Shelbyville move

Harley-Davidson is considering relocating its 2,300-worker motorcycle plant from York County, Pa., to Shelbyville to save money, company spokesman Bob Klein said Thursday.

Harley-Davidson is also considering Murfreesboro, Tenn., Kansas City, Kansas and Shelbyville, Ind., southeast of Indianapolis, Klein said.

The cost of managing an antiquated 235-acre site with 42 buildings, as well as unwieldy work rules, low productivity and problems with absenteeism have gotten too high, Klein said.

“We are very focused on making the tough decisions relative to the York operations,” Klein said.

While Harley-Davidson sales have declined along with the recession, Klein added “the fundamentals of the brand are strong” and the company is focused on strengthening the operation.

Threats to relocate from the historic Pennsylvania location amount to sabre-rattling as the plant's 2,035-person union work force approaches the expiration of a three-year labor agreement in February, said Tom Santone, business representative of Local Lodge 175 of the Machinist's union.

“There is no doubt the company is structuring itself for these upcoming negotiations,” Santone said. “It all leads to that. We are trying to see what we can do to restructure to keep the company here.”

Union workers assemble Harley-Davidson Softail and touring motorcycles in two plants in York County and earn roughly $23 per hour. A two-tier wage system, with lower earnings for entry level employees was instituted in the wake of a two-week strike at the York plants in 2007.

Pennsylvania is assembling a package of economic incentives, including $15 million to renovate the York plant, and funding for worker training, Michael Smith, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, said in an interview Thursday.

“This is going to require everyone's cooperation,” Smith said of efforts to save the York region's largest employer. A labor management committee has been working on cost-cutting strategies since May, when Harley-Davidson first announced it was considering relocation, company and union officials said.

In talks with Pennsylvania officials, Harley managers have said “they are considering leaving Pennsylvania because of high operating costs and inefficiencies that are too great to make the company competitive,” Theresa Elliott, a spokesperson for the Pa. Dept. of Community and Economic Development said in an interview Thursday.

Harley Davidson currently operates a factory in Kansas City. Two engine and transmission facilities near company headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisc., are being consolidated into one, Klein added.

Libby Adams, executive director of the Shelby County Industrial Foundation, the county's economic development agency, declined to comment.

Reporter Jere Downs can be reached at (502) 582-4669.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Boeing potential move draws bad blood in Washington

Sanford weighs in on the trash-talking from the Evergreen State
by Dan McCue

Gov. Mark Sanford is taking on his first challenge after the summer scandal, addressing some trash-talking from Washington state. It's an all-out effort by bloggers, rank-and-file workers, and even minor political aspirants to belittle South Carolina out of fear that the next Boeing assembly line might have an 843 area code.

In the weeks since Boeing announced it would take over production of fuselages at the former Vought facility next to Charleston International Airport, it seems that all some can talk about in Washington is the Palmetto State's low wages, high unemployment, and perennially challenged educational system.

Hoping to benefit from the prevailing mood, Larry Phillips, a candidate for county executive in King County, Wash., which encompasses the City of Seattle, even made it the focus of a recent campaign ad.

After extolling the "virtues" of his home state, where, he says, "We're changing the way people read books," "We build transit on time and under budget," "We made coffee famous," and "We invested in commercial air travel and the personal computer," he concludes the riff with a pithy, "Let's see South Carolina do that."

Sanford says that the trash-talkers in the Evergreen State are underestimating South Carolina's appeal and the state's commitment to competing for the new assembly line.

"South Carolina last year was fourth in the nation in labor force growth, which points to the fact that a lot of people are moving to South Carolina because they believe in the opportunities that come with living here," Sanford says, noting the state saw a record $4.17 billion in capital investment last year.

Battling Union Forces, Again
At the heart of the current bashfest is something that's largely alien to South Carolinians: A standoff between one of Washington's cornerstone employers —Boeing — and a union — the International Association of Machinists.

Hanging in the balance is the site of a second production line for the 787 Dreamliner, a facility deemed critical to the aerospace giant's effort to ramp up production of the aircraft and salvaging its much-tarnished reputation after multiple delays in getting the aircraft quite literally off the ground.

A decision on the location of that plant is expected by the end of the year. In the meantime, Boeing is pushing for a no-strike deal from the union. The IAM's position is that there's no reason to reopen the current contract, which was signed only last fall — after a two-month work stoppage — and is scheduled to run through 2012.

To paraphrase from one of the scores of editorials that have appeared in Seattle area newspapers, anxiety at Boeing's Seattle operations and throughout the state's aerospace industry is nearing an ear-ringing pitch.

The situation went ballistic last month when Dreamliner General Manager Scott Fancher held a press briefing in Charleston at which he officially unveiled Boeing's logo on the side of its newly acquired fuselage facility.

Fancher said a decision on the new production line will be made soon, and seemed to suggest that Charleston was on the short list of possible non-Washington sites. Boeing has since declined to comment on those remarks.

On his company blog, Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing's commercial airplanes division in Seattle, sought to allay fears about a second Charleston facility.

"The answer is that our main priorities on the program right now are to work through the issues regarding the recently announced postponement of the 787's first flight and to implement the flight test program," Tinseth wrote. "After that, we will address the move toward production ramp up."

In the meantime, a worker at the North Charleston site filed a petition to decertify the union at the plant. In October 2007, workers at the then-Vought Aircraft facility voted narrowly in favor of representation by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

If a vote on that petition comes to pass — and the union loses — organized workers at Boeing's Everett, Wash., production facility would then be competing with non-union workers in South Carolina.

The union, which represents more than 150,000 aerospace workers throughout the country, would strongly oppose any effort to pit one state against another, says Machinist Union spokesman Robert Wood.

"A manipulated competition over which state can provide the largest tax incentives and the lowest labor costs does a disservice to workers and taxpayers in both states," he says.

Moving Target
Economic development types in Washington have been feeling somewhat skittish about Boeing ever since $63 million in state and local incentives lured the company's headquarters from Seattle to Chicago in 2001.

But the company has also repeatedly embraced the workers in Everett, starting with its decision to build its 747 there in 1966. Since then Boeing has launched two additional assembly line projects there, one for the 777 and the other for the 787 Dreamliner.

Among the factors the company says influenced its choice of Everett at that time were collaborative economic development efforts that focused on providing direct incentives to the company, and what at the time was seen as Washington state's renewed, business- friendly climate. Everett was also close to a round-the-clock port, available infrastructure to accommodate suppliers nearby, training partnership opportunities, and the more elusively defined "community support."

It's also worth noting that around the same time, the Washington state legislature committed $4.2 billion in infrastructure improvements.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey won't enter the trash-talking, but he notes Boeing bought the local Vought plant, "knowing that we had a great workforce, a great work ethic."

Port Authority looks to actively market the area

COSHOCTON -- Port Authority Director T.J. Justice received approval last week from the Board of Directors to pursue an advertising campaign putting the county's name in front of more than 2,500 site selection consultants every couple of months.

After meeting with someone who works in the field, Justice learned mailing campaigns sending a pen or similar advertising item and periodic e-mails with items such as community newsletters are good reminders of a name.

"We just want to get our name in front of these site selection consultants," Justice said.

The Schooler Family Foundation grant last year specified a line item of $50,000 for marketing, for both Coshocton and Knox counties, Justice said.

A Web site -- -- will serve as a joint landing page for the Port Authority and Area Development Foundation of Knox County.

The board approved printing calendars that will share photos from both counties, plus mouse pads that will be sent out around the first of the year. The grant will also be used for postage.

American Electric Power awarded a $2,000 grant which Justice said will be used to update the Port Authority Web site.

"We don't receive phone calls like you would 10 years ago," he said. "Today, if someone wants to learn something about you, they go to your Web site. It's important we keep it fresh."

It's been about two years since the site was redesigned.

Greenlight, Clackamas County launch jobs initiative

A top Portland economic development group has teamed with Clackamas County on a pilot jobs creation program.

Greenlight Greater Portland will eventually roll out the Jobs Grow Here initiative to the entire Portland region. The program calls for Greenlight to interview senior executives on such matters as work force issues, global markets and expansion plans. Greenlight will then assemble the interviews into data that helps predict future workforce needs.

Greenlight is working on the pilot project with Clackamas County’s Business & Economic Development department.

The efforts could help Greenlight understand the region’s companies so that the group can encourage area leaders to add more economic development resources, said Gary Barth, deputy director of Clackamas County’s Business and Community Services department.

Greenlight is using software that will help the group generate data and reports based on their business interviews.

Greenlight Greater Portland is a regional consortium of Portland-area business leaders that focuses on economic development and business growth.

Monday, August 17, 2009

6 Essential Tips for Ads That Get Results

You don't need money to create a memorable message.
By Kim T. Gordon | Entrepreneur's StartUps - June 2009

One of the toughest jobs for any startup is to produce stellar ads without the help of a big-budget ad agency. The key is to engage your target audience, because for advertising to succeed, it has to be remembered. Even on the tightest budget, you can create successful ads by following these six vital tips.

Design for the ad environment. There are literally hundreds of forms of advertising—from billboards, websites and taxi-tops to ads on supermarket clocks. And ad environments sometimes differ within a single medium, such as when magazines offer four-color display advertising and small-space shopper ads. Become familiar with the nuances of the media you choose, and design your ads to meet their specific visual and editorial requirements.

Address the right audience. How well do you understand your target audience? Your ads should immediately appeal to prospects and speak to them in their own vernacular, including buzzwords. The ads must ring true, without the use of gender or cultural stereotypes, or exaggerated claims, so prospects automatically understand that your offer directly relates to their needs and wants.

Have a visual focal point. Unless you’re creating a sale ad for a newspaper featuring multiple products, use a single, eye-catching visual to provide the central focus. Competing visuals can make a small-space print ad or online ad appear cluttered. With so much competing advertising, make your ad stand out by virtue of clean, clear design, with an appealing focal point and simple elements.

Create an “aha” moment
. If you’ve ever wondered why the word “new” is used so often in advertising, it’s because our brains are actually alert for new information. One of the most exciting parts of creating advertising is that great ads have the ability to open minds. Your ad can show your customers a new way to achieve a goal or provide unique insight. The rewards will be greater audience attention and elevated response rates.

Make something happen. Any ad worth its salt should move a prospect to take some kind of action. If you highlight a strong benefit in your headline and include details in your body copy, your prospects will be excited to learn how to take advantage of what’s promised. It’s essential to close by providing a call to action that takes prospects to the next step, whether that means making a purchase or visiting your website to learn more. Great ads build interest, are remembered and get results.

Present a powerful benefit. Want to create a headline that pulls in readers? Use it to highlight a desirable benefit or offer. Understand what your customers want that you can provide. Put your promise up front in your headline, then use your ad’s body copy to explain how you’ll deliver that benefit.

Contact marketing expert Kim T. Gordon, author of Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars: The Top 50 Ways to Grow Your Small Business, at

Cities battle economic forces to shape their recoveries

By DONNELLE ELLER • • August 16, 2009

A year ago, nearly 70 percent of leading Sioux City businesses said they expected to expand - investing $372 million and adding 519 workers.

This year, about half of the same businesses said they're considering expanding - investing $10 million to create 75 jobs.

"It's a dramatically different picture," Debi Durham, president of the Siouxland Initiative, said about the economic development group's first-quarter surveys.

As Iowa cities weather one of the worst economies in history, economic development leaders said many companies are struggling to hold their own. They're faced with declining national and world demand, limited access to capital and parent companies looking to consolidate.

"The economy is telling us what it wants the state to look like," said Liesl Eathington, an Iowa State University economist. "Despite a lot of policies and economic development efforts, it will be hard to overcome these forces."

Trends to watch, Eathington and other specialists said:

Migration: The economic downturn will accelerate the longtime drive of workers and jobs from small towns and rural areas to large cities. State data show most of Iowa's largest cities gained workers in 2008 from 2007, primarily from inside Iowa.

"It's a chicken-and-egg thing," Eathington said. "Workers go where they expect to find jobs. Companies expand where they're likely to find adequate work force."

Shifting employment: Down 27,700 factory jobs in June, Iowa will never see some of those jobs return as corporations permanently downsize, leaders said. But other types of jobs have been created - especially in renewable energy - helping Iowa workers as the recession rages.

"Renewable fuels is one of those things we saw take off a year or two ago ... and it has helped stabilize us," said John Kramer, a Fort Dodge economic development leader.

Emerging advantages: A newly trained corps of dislocated workers could give the state an economic development edge as businesses again look to expand. Also, Iowa's low costs could attract businesses and workers, especially as states raise taxes to regain a financial footing, leaders said.

"Workers and businesses weren't as desperate for affordability," said Martha Willits, chief executive of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. "They could live in Chicago, New York. But the recession has changed that. Affordability will be huge. Lifestyle will be huge." More here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Campaign seeks to lure Calif. businesses to Vegas

By Richard N. Velotta (contact)

Published Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009 | 12:49 p.m.

The Nevada Development Authority’s newest advertising campaign to lure Southern California businesses to Las Vegas says if they stay there they can “kiss their assets goodbye.”

The $1 million campaign, which breaks Friday in Southern California on television, radio and print, is the NDA’s latest attempt at enticing businesses to relocate.

Similar previous campaigns have drawn heated responses from California government officials and business organizations and the new campaign, which is edgier than those produced in the past, is expected to get under the skin of loyal Californians.

Los Angeles’ ABC affiliate, KABC, already has told the NDA that it would not run the new spots.

The campaign, developed by Las Vegas-based Shonkwiler Partners, incorporates two basic themes, an apple-to-apple comparison of California and Nevada business climate in which the California apple shrivels and rots and another that compares the effects of California legislation on businesses to the shenanigans of a monkey. The ads incorporate the tagline “Kiss your assets goodbye.”

The NDA sells Southern Nevada for its lower personal and business income taxes, reduced workers’ compensation rates and decreased operational expenses, including its friendlier regulatory environment.

The campaign hits at a time when California faces a $26.3 billion budget deficit projected to reach more than $42 billion next year. The state began issuing IOUs for a variety of payments it owes, but several banks stopped accepting them in mid-July. To lampoon the IOU development, the NDA is issuing IOUs promising a better business environment in Nevada whenever a company makes an inquiry. More here.

DeSoto officials grapple with economic development approaches

By Vickie Welborn • • August 3, 2009

MANSFIELD — If ever in the history of DeSoto Parish a united front needed to be presented to business prospects, it's now, many in the profession agree.

Getting there, though, is the source of much discussion lately. The shotgun approach to economic development that's been the past practice has come under scrutiny as parish, city and chamber officials find themselves at times overwhelmed with the volume of interest that's hit the parish in the past year.

The Haynesville Shale gets the credit — or the blame. No one is complaining, but the warp speed at which the activity has taken place opened eyes to the need to refocus efforts and get everyone headed in the same direction.

"We all need to be working together," DeSoto Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim May said.

Mansfield Mayor Curtis McCoy agreed: "It's better when a group can work together than separately. We've got some groups that want to work independently, and it doesn't work that way. Getting together and shooting for the same thing; that's cooperation, and it goes a long way."

The flaw that's been exposed is the mixed signals that have been given to some of the business prospects. And that's what some want to remedy. More here.

Georgia still getting industrial prospects

ATLANTA - Companies still are interested in moving jobs to Georgia, even during the ongoing recession, according to figures released last week by state industrial recruiters, but the pace has slowed.

The number of individual "projects" - or businesses announcing plans to locate a factory, warehouse or headquarters - increased by six from the previous year to 327 during the 12 months ending in June. But the projects were smaller, with the companies' total investment decreasing 21 percent and the number of jobs they are bringing falling by 13 percent, according to data kept by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Although the department is the state government's industrial-recruiting agency, it doesn't keep track of companies lured by individual communities or industries like retailing and hospitality.

The figures also don't include entertainment, which doubled its spending. The state snagged 26 feature films, 36 television shows, nearly 200 commercials and 36 music videos spent $521 million during the last fiscal year, thanks to a package of incentives recently passed by the General Assembly, GDED officials said.

Tourism also improved, but by a more modest 2 percent in dollar terms, the department reported. Fewer visitors made the trip here, but those who came spent slightly more than the previous year.

Ken Stewart, commissioner of economic development, said the state has held its own during the economic downturn and could be poised for a recovery.

"We're seeing a lot of indicators that we're either at the bottom (of the recession) or bouncing along the bottom," he said.

Stewart noted that three of every four projects landed by the department will be located outside of the eight counties making up the core of metro Atlanta. He also stressed that the state had been the first in the Southeast to host the premier convention for the bio-tech industry, BIO 2009, which brought 14,000 top executives to Atlanta.

"It will take some years for the relationships we made there to bear fruit," he said.

George Israel, president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said the long lead time for wooing industrial prospects demands continued recruiting during recessions.

The chamber sponsors the Red Carpet Tour which brings prospect companies' executives to The Masters Tournament in Augusta, and one met with Israel last week because the corporation has decided to bring a major facility to Georgia if it can line up financing.

This year 23 executives participated in the tour, the best-qualified in his 16 years of involvement.

"Those are continuing to look at Georgia, and we're excited about that," he said.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, August 02, 2009

'Recovery' group shifts to marketing GM site

By ERIK SHILLING • News Journal • August 11, 2009

MANSFIELD -- Motorsports impresario Roger Penske -- who announced in June he would buy the Saturn brand from General Motors -- was noncommittal after hearing the local sales pitch for the Ontario stamping plant.

Penske met Sunday with Richland Economic Development Corp. Director Mike Greene, but did not tip his hand about buying the Mansfield/Ontario Metal Center, scheduled to close next year.

"I didn't come away thinking that I got anything from him," Greene said. "But he listened."

Penske, who was in Lexington during the weekend for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, met with Greene at the track. Penske said he was looking for about 500,000 square feet in warehouse space. He was unaware GM had announced the stamping plant's closure.

"There's been a lot of rumors, but I'm not sure he's investigated the possibility (of buying the plant) yet," Greene said.

A Penske purchase of the metal center is a longshot, but it's one of the leads the former Mansfield Makes Sense for the New GM committee is pursuing. The committee, re-named the Regional Economic Recovery Team, met Monday in Ontario for the first time since GM executive Tim Lee came to town July 31.

Ontario Mayor Ken Bender said he met with representatives from Motors Liquidation Company -- the old GM -- Monday morning.

"I think at this point we know more than they do about the plant," Bender said. "The plant will go not to the highest bidder, but what's best for the community, I was told."

GM has not announced a final date for the closure, which hampers the committee's attempts to market the site to new buyers. Many engineering details about the facility remain in GM's hands.

Richland County Commissioner Gary Utt said it is imperative to get those details and turn the facility around as quickly as possible.

"No disrespect to the workers out there, but from a marketing perspective for us, the sooner (GM) gets out, the better," Utt said.

Roanoke Regional Partnership Redefining Economic Development

Outdoor amenities, social media supplementing traditional efforts to attract investment, people to Virginia region

Roanoke, VA (PRWEB) July 30, 2009 -- The Roanoke Regional Partnership ( is redefining economic development by promoting the area's outdoor assets and using social media to attract both investment and people.

While the organization, representing seven communities in Virginia and a population of 300,000, continues to lure businesses with the region's low cost of living, convenient location, low utility rates, strong work ethic and other factors, the Roanoke Regional Partnership ( also has added a different approach.

"Typically, economic development has been about getting companies to invest in big boxes where people make or do things," says Beth Doughty, executive director. "Then there's the philosophy that if you attract people first jobs will follow when companies seek talent or those here will build their own businesses. We've developed a hybrid model for 21st century economic development that does both -- attracting investment and talent."

For 25 years, the Roanoke Regional Partnership has practiced a traditional business recruitment model focusing on industry. That has led to $1.3 billion in investment and more than 13,000 jobs created.

"Now, in our 26th year, we don't just talk to corporate site selectors. We also talk to people who can work from anywhere and people looking for a great place to live first and looking for a job follows," Doughty says. "This model is based on economic development research that shows that jobs follow people in greater quantity than large numbers of people following jobs."

To supplement business recruitment, the organization has added retail recruitment, image building and asset development to raise the visibility of the region.

"We don't have a bad image - we have no image," Doughty says. "People don't know we're here."

To combat that notion, the Partnership redesigned its Web site ( to tell a 360-degree story about working, living and playing in the region. To complement its online efforts, the Partnership was one of the first U.S. economic development organizations to launch a Facebook page, YouTube channel and Wikipedia strategy. It also uses Twitter to connect with people and has quickly gained more than 400 followers.

The Partnership also employs search-engine optimization and marketing and media outreach to tell the story.

"When you mention Roanoke, the first thing people say is how beautiful it is here," Doughty says. The region is bordered by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, with the Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Smith Mountain Lake, Jefferson and George Washington National Forests, and James River within minutes of urban amenities.

"But we've overlooked the potential of our natural amenities as an economic engine. Not only does that outdoor culture create a vibe that attracts people; it's an economic sector in itself," Doughty says.

To leverage its outdoor assets the Partnership created a new position, director of outdoor branding. "Our first order is to catalogue, package and promote these amenities," Doughty says. "If we communicate effectively, talent and investment will want to be associated with the Roanoke outdoors brand."

A new online directory,, is in the works to connect people with outdoor-related activities, businesses, and events; printable maps; outdoor-related calendar of events; and video and images. It will also be a conduit for dialogue about the region's outdoors, with links to existing social media channels.

"We work to attract advanced manufacturing -- why not attract the kind of companies that will give us an outdoor recreation-related economy?" Doughty asks.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Economic development groups turn up the heat on recruitment of solar companies to AZ

Phoenix Business Journal - by Patrick O'Grady

Solar recruitment is hitting a new high as local officials promote recently passed incentives to lure more businesses to Arizona and a burgeoning cottage industry forms in the state.

Hot on the heels of the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1403, which will offer incentives for the renewable energy industry based on their ability to provide high-wage jobs, economic developers from several cities hit the Intersolar North America trade show two weeks ago with representatives from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Held in San Francisco, the show attracted more than 400 exhibitors and thousands of people involved in the industry.

The new incentives made a quick difference, said Christine Mackay, economic developer for the city of Chandler, who was part of the contingent that went to Intersolar.

“It makes us highly competitive,” she said. “The program isn’t as lucrative as the Oregon one, but when you factor in all the other variables ... it makes us very competitive.”

Oregon offers up to a 50 percent tax credit for companies setting up shop in the state, to a maximum of $20 million. California, Colorado and other states, while not offering as large an incentive, make concessions in tax rates to recruit green companies. More here.

Water Ruling Won't Hurt Business Recruitment, Leaders Say

David Beasley Atlanta - 07.28.09

Three of Georgia's top economic development leaders insisted Tuesday that metro Atlanta’s efforts to recruit new businesses won’t be hurt by a federal judge’s recent ruling that could severely cut the amount of water the region draws from Lake Lanier.

“This is a very adaptable region and state that constantly reinvents itself,” Sam Williams, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, said at a news conference held to provide a mid-year update on efforts to attract new businesses to Georgia.

A federal judge, Paul Magnuson, ruled July 17 that Lake Lanier’s major purpose as originally authorized by Congress was navigation, hydro power and flood control, not drinking water for metro Atlanta. Unless Congress acts within three years, metro Atlanta must drastically reduce the amount of water it takes out of Lanier, the judge ruled. Georgia is appealing the ruling while also seeking Congressional action.

Metro Atlanta has many options to resolve the water controversy, including increased conservation and constructing additional reservoirs, Mr. Williams said.

“We’ve been in a water confrontation for 20 years,” Mr. Williams said of the lengthy court fight with Florida and Alabama over the use of water in Lake Lanier, a federally constructed reservoir that captures water from the Chattahoochee River and is metro Atlanta’s main water source. More here.

Consultant shares ways to enhance site selection

The Wichita Eagle

Time is a major factor when it comes to companies selecting sites to locate.

Consultant Mark Sweeney drove that point home Thursday in addressing the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition's midyear investor meeting at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

"Site selection sounds nicer than site elimination," Sweeney said, "but elimination is what we do. There are cuts."

Sweeney is the senior principal of McCallum Sweeney Consulting in Greenville, S.C., which helps clients locate acceptable sites for their businesses.

Some of his group's clients include Boeing, Nissan, Dollar General, Michelin and Mitsubishi.

He reviewed various practical steps groups such as the GWEDC can take to increase the chances their sites will be selected.

But all of the areas centered on making the process run faster.

"Clients are very deadline driven," Sweeney said.

By making the process move quicker, he said, he wasn't suggesting anyone should take shortcuts.

"We'd fire the client if that's what they wanted," Sweeney said.

He also discussed site certification, a rigorous process that establishes exactly what a site has to offer in regard to zoning, environmental issues, infrastructure, transportation and other areas.

"There's no perfect site," Sweeney said.

But he said having a site certified is an important part of moving the selection process along quickly and smoothly.

"Those that have a site certified have a competitive advantage," he said. More here.

KEDC to use "social networking" to draw businesses to Kilgore


When in Rome, do as the Romans.

When marketing the economic development opportunities available in your city, do Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Amanda Nobles, manager of the Kilgore Economic Development Corporation, told her board members during their regular meeting Tuesday night that KEDC has opted to use "social networking" to get the word out about doing business in Kilgore.

"The more times you get Kilgore EDC or Synergy Park's name out through whatever medium you use, that's what triggers the Google searches and those types of things, so the more times Kilgore will pop up on someone's radar screen," Nobles explained.

Nobles said she tries to put "interesting information" on the Web sites.

"For instance, if someone came to tour the (new Synergy Park) shell building, we'd say 'A prospect toured Kilgore Texas USA 80,000-square-foot available building.' That's a short message that gets 'Kilgore Texas USA' out there. It gets that someone is looking at the building and that we have an 80,000-square-foot building available and that's the kind of information we're trying to share," Nobles said.

She adds it is a challenge to "think in short sentences" but KEDC "tries to keep our information out there, to keep it sharp and to make sure people know what's going on with us."

Nobles noted social networking on these relatively new sites is a way to communicate with younger people, especially young commercial real estate salesmen and site selection consultants.

"We can't keep marketing with the same old tools," Nobles said. "We've got to grow with the times and use the tools that are coming available, and be sure we are a part of the marketing that's going on right now."

All three Web sites offer free subscriptions, so there's no real cost involved, Nobles said, with the exception of the time it takes to post messages.

Shining a green light on growth

By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel

For more and more businesses, going green has gone from being viewed as an extra to a critical path to staying competitive.

That's the view coming from Waukesha County's business community, where the county's Economic Development Corp. believes use of sustainability and green business practices could help the region set itself apart over the long term.

Bill Mitchell runs the economic development corporation for Waukesha County, where the county is basing its business-growth strategy on greening its business community through a new initiative called Partnerships for Sustainability.

The initiative seeks to train companies with fewer than 250 workers on steps they can take to become more sustainable and save on their operating costs.

"This is about jobs," Mitchell said. "The job growth over the next decades in green jobs, that's what got our attention, with companies adapting their products and processes related to green." More here.

McKinney business leaders would entice new firms under Mayor's 100 plan

By ED HOUSEWRIGHT / The Dallas Morning News

Mayor Brian Loughmiller wants McKinney's businesspeople to help sell the city.

He briefed City Council members Friday on a plan called the Mayor's 100, which would use executives to entice companies to move to McKinney.

Loughmiller wants the council to select 10 business leaders in fields such as manufacturing, health care and retail. They, in turn, would each appoint nine colleagues in the field.

All 100 would act as unpaid economic development ambassadors, using their networks to promote McKinney as a good business location.

"People who live in McKinney have expertise and knowledge we can take advantage of," Loughmiller said.

He said the executives wouldn't recruit direct competitors, only companies in the same general industry. For instance, he said, a hospital official might persuade a pharmaceutical firm to relocate to McKinney.

Council members generally expressed support for the program, which has been tried in Dallas, San Antonio and other cities, Loughmiller said.

Loughmiller said the 100 business leaders would not compete against the McKinney Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corp. or Community Development Corp., which also recruit businesses. Instead, they would work toward a common goal, Loughmiller said.

Council members Pete Huff and Ray Ricchi said the council needed to make sure the other economic development organizations would work with the Mayor's 100 before approving the plan.

"Some of these groups are turf-conscious and jealous," Huff said.

Holding out hope for economic unity in Florida

Senior Business Writer
The News-Journal

The future of Volusia and Flagler counties is inextricably bound with that of their neighbors, and area officials are promoting increased collaboration in keeping the jobs that are here and presenting a united effort in recruiting new businesses to the region.

"We are not an island to ourselves," Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno said. "You don't know what may come from the sharing of information."

Bruno, who also serves as chairman of the seven-county Congress of Regional Leaders, said, "You can't do this county by county. It takes a regional approach."

Local, regional or national, an improving job market can't come too soon to the multitudes without jobs.

Unemployed workers in Volusia and Flagler counties who once could turn to the larger markets in Jacksonville or Orlando for jobs no longer enjoy that option. Unemployment numbers in those cities now are comparable to local figures.

Jennifer Wakefield, spokeswoman for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, said there is a natural competition between counties, and many times counties compete head-to-head for businesses seeking to move here from elsewhere.

"But we found we are much more successful when we collaborate," she said.

Mark D. Soskin, an economist at the University of Central Florida, said "circling the wagons" and protecting existing jobs "is an area we've fallen down on" in Central Florida. More here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

10 Tips for Effective Email Campaigns

Email is a great cost-effective method to get information out to your customers and prospects. In planning your email campaign, here are some things to think about:

Strategy - Why are you sending your email? Is the information useful to your audience? Whatever your message, make sure it is the right one for your objective whether it is sales, awareness or informational.

Distribution List - Who are you sending to? Is your list valid? Make sure your list is current for an optimal response and read rate. Don’t spend time putting an email campaign together if you are sending to an outdated list.

Opt-in Only - Hopefully your strategy is on track for the targeted list, but most of the time you’ll have some email recipients who want out. Allow them to opt-out of future emails quickly and easily.

Email content - Do you like reading long paragraphs within an email? Probably not … neither do your customers! Use quick, concise content in the form of bullets or short sentences with a clear call to action. Use the email to draw them back to your site.

Content placement & images - Will your readers see what you want them to see? Be aware of the “above the fold” limit when writing your emails. Make sure users don’t need to scroll to understand the primary objective of your email. Check on your images too, and make sure they are compressed for email use.

Links back to your website - Make sure the links back to your website are functioning. The call to action needs to take the reader to an up to date page with clear instructions on what to do next.

Email frequency - Let your readers know when they can expect to hear from you and be conscious of their time. You don’t like receiving a ton of email and neither do they, so give them a heads up.

Personalization - Personalize the email and let them know it is coming from you when appropriate. Read rates go up when recipients either recognize the “from” name or see that it isn’t from “sales@” or “info@”.

Best day/time to send- Monday morning emails can get lost easily, and end of day emails fall into the same boat. Try sending early afternoon, right after lunch so your email is the top of the inbox when they return.

Tracking - Not all email programs have tracking (read rates, unsubscribes, bouncebacks, etc.). Make sure you find a program that does and keep an up to date email list allowing you to take full advantage of mass emailing.