Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ann Arbor is a major stakeholder in Borders' future

Ann Arbor watched Borders Group Inc. grow into the second largest book retailer in the nation, remaining the home of its corporate headquarters even as the chain formed the core of a company that grew to hundreds of stores generating over $1 billion in sales.

Today, the community remains a stakeholder as the bookseller sorts out its future amid industry turmoil, leadership changes and falling investor confidence.

News this week that Borders will soon be under the leadership of its third CEO since January 2009 sent the company’s stock falling to less than $1 per share. Its overall value, based on the stock price, fell to $56 million by Wednesday afternoon.

That news follows reports of lower-than-expected holiday sales and store closings, and ongoing concern - even as Borders is positioned to sell on Apple’s new iPad tablet - about its electronic reader strategy.

Amid uncertainty about the company’s direction, the economic impact of Borders on Washtenaw County can be felt in tax revenue, employment and real estate: More here.

Arizona needs sustained job-growth strategy

by Betty Beard - Jan. 31, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Arizona enters a new decade with not only a massive budget deficit but also a severe job deficit that threatens to crush its hopes for a quick economic recovery.

Almost 10 percent of the state's jobs were wiped out by the brutal recession, dealing a huge blow to government budgets, the housing market and retailers.

More jobs are needed to fill the more than 80,000 houses standing empty in metro Phoenix. More jobs are needed to put money in the pockets of people, whose spending is vital for businesses to get back on their feet. And more jobs are needed in new fields, a labor-force diversification of risk to better weather the next recession.

The challenge before Arizona is neither simple nor short-term.

To foster job growth, Arizona needs a vision, a strategy to carry out that vision, and leadership to sustain it through political and economic changes.

Other states have proven the worth of a sound, sustained economic plan articulated by governors of both political parties.

North Carolina, for instance, is famous for its Research Triangle Park. Once nothing more than an idea envisioned for empty acreage in one of the poorest areas of the Southeast, the "science park" is now an economic-development engine. It has churned out innovations such as Astroturf, bar-code technology and 3-D ultrasounds and employs tens of thousands of workers.

This month the park turns 51. More here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lee businesses look for recruits

Horizon Council meeting focuses on networking

By Tim Engstrom

Lee County’s economic development leaders turned an annual meeting Friday into a recruiting drive for business-hunting foot soldiers.

About 300 business leaders who had lunch at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre were asked to take comment cards, posters and even T-shirts promoting the “Together, we mean business” marketing campaign.

“If this causes someone to engage you and start a conversation, then it is all for the good,” said Jim Moore, executive director of the Fort Myers Regional Partnership/Lee Economic Development Office.

The recruitment was at the annual meeting of the Horizon Council, which includes business leaders and government representatives who advise Lee County commissioners on economic development issues.

Moore recounted the group’s accomplishments for 2009, including using about $4.3 million in state and local incentives programs to convince six companies to commit to adding more than 800 jobs over the next five years.

On Tuesday, Lee commissioners will be asked to approve a $10 million incentive deal with Algenol Biofuels Inc., which plans to build a research lab and headquarters here.

But more is needed, Moore said.

“We have to touch everyone out there that we haven’t touched yet and there are a lot of those,” he said.

The effort includes billboards, a LeeTran bus and promotional information sent along with Lee County utility bills.

Kitty Green, former chief executive of the Bonita Bay Group, is leading the Horizon Council’s community outreach effort.

“When Jim (Moore) and I first talked about this, it made so much sense that I was surprised we haven’t gone that route before,” Green said. “All the advertising in the world isn’t as effective as one human being talking to another human being and asking for a lead.”

Bob Gasparini, president and chief science officer of NeoGenomics, said after the meeting that Lee County is on the right track.

“This is a terrific program for Lee County,” Gasparini said.

NeoGenomics, a publicly traded cancer genetics testing lab with its headquarters in Lee County, received $615,000 in incentive money in exchange for hiring 75 employees over the next three years.

John Dwyer, president and chief executive officer of Interop Technologies, said he expects the recruiting efforts to be successful.

“They are absolutely right that one-to-one recruiting is the way to go,” Dwyer said.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Marketing plan looks at a making a 'splash' in Mooresville

By Melinda Skutnick | Mooresville Tribune
Published: January 29, 2010

Looking to provide Mooresville with a distinct and marketable identity, an area design expert unveiled his plan to town commissioners Thursday.

Nicknamed "Project Splash," the plan is the brainchild of Davidson design firm owner Buzz Bizzell and a task force of representatives from the Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Committee and town government.

The goal of the task force, Bizzell said, was to "improve the identity and position of the city of Mooresville's overall visual marketing approach" utilizing suggestions made in the Mount Mourne Small Area Plan and the Angelou Economics Comprehensive Study.

Improving the town's identity, he said, would be done through distinctive gateways entering Mooresville, directional signage leading toward various destinations and a unified graphic approach – a stylized "M."

Said Bizzell, "We want to create a unifying element so when a traveler or a business person did their research on Mooresville, they would begin to see a pattern and a unified look. We want to make a splash in this community."

He also suggested that the town as a whole better reinforce the connection between historic downtown Mooresville and Lake Norman.

"Lake Norman is the most underused marketing that Mooresville has," said Bizzell, who noted in a booklet distributed at Thursday morning's Board of Commissioners meeting that the town can better unify the two elements through the use of a fountain or water feature along Main Street or continuing the downtown mural project with artwork inspired by the lake lifestyle.

A strong gateway welcoming individuals into town was another element presented by Bizzell, who mentioned that I-77's exit 31 would provide the best location for a formal gateway "because of the fresh, pristine location and ease to downtown."

Offering several visual representations of the ideas he discussed, Bizzell provided examples of – and ideal locations for – signage Mooresville could utilize throughout town for businesses and "wayfinding."

He said, "The Project Splash team felt the need to establish a unified look that runs through the various marketing and community development and business development agencies."

Bizzell said organizations such as the Mooresville Downtown Commission, Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce and the Mooresville Convention and Visitors Bureau could use an online image bank that would house the stylized "M" that would unify the town.

Phase one of the project would cost Mooresville an estimated $123,430, said Bizzell, and that would include the exit 31 gateway and 15 directional signs in town as well as the rebuilding of two existing gateways, at the intersections of Wilson Avenue and US 21 and highways 150 and 152.

These costs are in addition to the funds necessary to hire Bizzell's firm, Bizzell Design Inc. of Davidson, for the entire project, estimated around $29,000.

Calling most of the items Bizzell mentioned "discussion points," Commissioner Chris Carney – also a member of the task force -- said that when the town jumped on board, "it was more about Mooresville seizing its image."

He noted that this type of project has been discussed for "the last three or four years," but the town often sought to separate itself from Lake Norman.

After Commissioner Mac Herring asked Bizzell what the next steps are that the town should be taking, the designer noted that above all else the town should create its image bank that would provide cohesive marketing for all Mooresville entities. The gateway – which some commissioners said would better serve its purpose at the future exit 35 on Brawley School Road – should be the town's second priority.

Commissioner Miles Atkins questioned the lack of wayfinding signage down Brawley School Road, toward the lake.

"I think the real low hanging fruit are the residents who live in Mooresville, out at The Point, who don't even know downtown Mooresville exists," said Atkins, mentioning a need to bring those residents to the other side of town.

"We'd see some immediate benefits of that," he added.

Town Manager Steve Husemann noted that officials and commissioners can further discuss Project Splash and possible funding streams at the upcoming town board retreat.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bay City economic development organization plans to continue worldwide recruiting efforts

By Michael Wayland | The Bay City Times
January 25, 2010, 9:40AM

A partnership of economic development organizations in the Great Lakes Bay Region will continue to span the globe this year in hopes of expanding business investments in the area.

The Great Lakes Bay Economic Development Partnership, made up of Bay Future Inc., Midland Tomorrow and Saginaw Future Inc., plans to travel to Spain and possibly other destinations this year to recruit companies — particularly those involved in alternative energy.

“Alternative energy and green energy and green jobs is a very lucrative industry right now and we want Bay County and the region to get as many of those opportunities that we can,” said Fred Hollister, president and CEO of Bay Future. “We’re ready to work with anybody ... but that’s a very important industry right now.”

Hollister said the regional partnership will have representatives at the fifth World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion and at the 25th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, both taking place simultaneously in September in Spain; and possibly have representatives at conferences or trade shows involving alternative energy in California and Asia.

Hollister said attending the conferences is a cost-effective way to meet different global organizations and investors at the same time.

In 2009, Hollister and other representatives from the Great Lakes Bay Economic Development Partnership attended five alternative-energy conferences or trade shows in Las Vegas; Buffalo, N.Y.; Anaheim, Calif.; San Francisco and Hamburg, Germany.

Hollister said the Hamburg show was attended by more than 4,000 registered delegates from 73 companies. The Great Lakes Bay group hosted a breakfast meeting in Germany with about 50 company representatives to promote the region as a place to set up solar companies.

“(Traveling and the partnership) has enabled us to make relationships with solar companies around the world,” said JoAnn T. Crary, president of Saginaw Future. “We expect to see more success in the next year.”

The Great Lakes Bay Region has lured more than $3 billion in solar-business investments in the past five years. Last year alone, the region saw Bay County-based Dow Corning Corp. announce it will spend several hundred million dollars and initially create 30 jobs at a new solar energy-related manufacturing plant in Saginaw County; Norcross, Ga.-based Suniva Inc., a maker of high-efficiency, low-cost solar panels, announce plans to open a manufacturing facility in Saginaw County, and San Jose, Calif.-based GlobalWatt announce it will locate its 500-job, $177 million solar module production plant in Saginaw.

Hollister said the partnership and worldwide recruitment is proving effective. He hopes for business investment locally and internationally to continue to grow in the Great Lakes Bay Region in 2010.

“We’re going to continue working for those type of opportunities — to participate with existing organizations that have a track record in the industry — to look for new investments from the region and also look for opportunities to do business outside the region,” Hollister said.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Commissioner: We need jobs

Bensman says Lake Norman regional economic growth group hasn't done enough for Cornelius.

By Joe Marusak
Posted: Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010

CORNELIUS Town commissioner Jim Bensman says the Lake Norman region's economic development group hasn't done enough to bring industry and jobs to his town, and he wants Cornelius to consider hiring its own person.

Bensman said he thinks Huntersville has benefited most from the nonprofit Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corp.

"Cornelius has not received a heck of a lot of benefit from the EDC over the years," Bensman said at a commissioners' meeting last week. "I'm beginning to think Cornelius needs its own EDC."

Bensman also questioned the EDC in his Jan. 16 e-mail newsletter.

"I must say that I am very disappointed with the performance of this group and believe it is badly managed," Bensman said. "While they have had limited success in attracting businesses to the region, it has virtually all been for Huntersville."

A recent e-mail from the EDC announcing more than 600 jobs coming to north Mecklenburg turned out to be a goal set by the EDC board, "not an actual accomplishment," Bensman said.

Jerry Broadway, EDC executive director, apologized to the commissioners for that jobs announcement. He said an EDC staffer wrote the announcement of 600 jobs in the subject line of an e-mail merely to draw attention to the e-mail.

Broadway was on the agenda last week to update commissioners on the EDC's efforts.

Because of the poor economy, he said, inquiries from companies interested in moving to the region were flat "at best" in 2009. And EDC budget cuts led to reduced marketing, he said.

But there's good news, too, he said:

Plans continue for preparing the industrial park site known as Davidson East, and the EDC is considering about 85 acres off Bailey Road in Cornelius for another such site, Broadway said.

{foliobull}The EDC will unveil a "much more aggressive program to market the region" this year, Broadway said.

Local entrepreneurs Dale Tweedy and Jeff Wakeman plan to open the not-for-profit Cornelius Business Factory in March in the Champions Pointe office building at 16930 W. Catawba Ave. The firm will provide monthly workshops and peer strategy sessions to help small and early-stage businesses expand.

"Several of the small, growing companies we serve through Lake Norman Regional EDC's existing industry program will likely find this program very beneficial," EDC board chairman Craig Norfolk said in a news release.

Broadway also mentioned how 11 Cornelius properties are listed on the EDC's Web site and how the EDC has held several of its meetings at Cornelius locations. "We've looked for ways to be more involved with the town," he told the commissioners.

Bensman said a meeting should be arranged to further discuss the town's economic development concerns. The meeting should include a couple of commissioners along with EDC and town staffs, he said.

Broadway said he would contact Cornelius Town Manager Anthony Roberts to arrange a meeting.

Friday, January 22, 2010

‘Grand’ vs. ‘Great’ roils North Country

Businesses and residents in the North Country are split over a new marketing campaign for Coos Country that features three “grand” hotels in its slogan and aims to promote the region as a destination point for those looking for adventure and luxury.

It’s the classic clash between those who know what the region is and those who want it to be more.

Well-known North Country resident – and former Telegraph writer – John Harrigan, of Colebrook, says the branding concept “smacks of elitism and doesn’t reflect the workaday world” of the communities north of Franconia Notch.

Our sister publication, The New Hampshire Business Review, did a recent story on the controversy.

Coos County, the state’s largest with more square miles than Hillsborough and Rockingham combined, has often struggled economically. It’s a region of the self-sufficient, with timber, recreation and tourism at the heart of commerce.

Less known than the White Mountain region to its south, it is no less lovely and just as rugged. Still, it hasn’t achieved the notoriety – for tourism and business – many would like, certainly not to the degree of the Lakes and Mountain regions.

Winter comes early to the North Country and releases its grip late. “Grand” might be a good description of its 20 feet of annual snowfall; beyond that, it’s not the adjective that comes to mind when describing the general nature of things in the communities of Lancaster, Colebrook and Berlin.

But “Grand” is what Roger Brooks, a Seattle-based consultant, came up with to pitch the region as a destination point.

“Grand Resorts, Grand Adventures,” is the theme, and each community is asked to support changing to this concept from the “Great North Woods,” currently the moniker. “Grand North” is to be the region’s name, and it will cost about $3.5 million to change signage and get rid of the old theme.

The hotels at the center of the campaign certainly meet the lofty criteria of the effort. The Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield and The Balsams in Dixville Notch are treasures of the state; three regal, historic places of great charm, ambience and lavishness, all set against breathtaking backdrops.

What’s really drawing fire is the issue over the two-dozen other businesses that measure up to “Grand” or, perhaps, all the others that do not.

County Commissioner Tom Brady, owner of the famous Six Gun City in Jefferson, was originally on the list of “grand adventures” that are to be showcased in the overall campaign along with the hotels.

But his business got dropped when the group making such determinations found the facility in need of maintenance. Having just spent about $200,000 upgrading his tourist spot, Brady was not happy, and his fellow county commissioners don’t like the concept, either.

Snobby seems to be the reaction of some to the promotion.

“These sheets are cleaner than those sheets,” says Fred King, the Coos County treasurer. “It’s grossly unfair.”

But Stephen Barba, who ran The Balsams for three decades and is among the most respected voices from the North Country, points out that no marketing campaign is perfect. The former efforts fell short and a change is needed, he said.

We think those behind the new branding got it half right. “Grand Adventures” makes sense and captures the essence of the North Country without the need for showcasing any one business over another.

Winter sports, fishing, hunting, animal and bird watching, outdoor recreation and vacationing in more rustic ways are the norm for what the North Country offers visitors. Spa treatments? Mints on pillows? Wine spectaculars? Less so.

The spirit of those who make Coos County home and welcome those of us from elsewhere is an adventurous one, so why not celebrate and promote that?

Surely, that has grand appeal.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cities Find Ways to Invest in Economic Development Without State Help

Erin O'Toole (2010-01-20)

GREELEY, CO (KUNC) - A report from the Colorado Municipal League says cities struggling with the economic recession aren't waiting for the state to help them create jobs.

Budget cuts have forced virtually every Colorado municipality to scale back on services and infrastructure projects and that has cities looking for other ways to invest in their own growth. The 2010 "State of Our Cities and Towns" report says cities are using tax incentives, tourism promotion and "buy local" campaigns to promote development.

Mark Radtke, a legislative and policy advocate for the CML, says municipalities have many tools at their disposal.

"Cities have the ability to create improvement districts and provide the infrastructure needed for new building projects," he says. "There's urban renewal and downtown development authority-types of districts that can assist in redeveloping an entire area."

The report says almost two-thirds of the state's larger cities are focusing on redevelopment projects to create jobs. Although the economic picture is likely to be flat or even a bit worse in 2011, Radtke says most cities and towns will continue to dedicate resources toward economic growth.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ruse of the Creative Class

Cities that shelled out big bucks to learn Richard Florida's prescription for vibrant urbanism are now hearing they may be beyond help.

Alec MacGillis
The American Prospect

In April 2006, the Richard Florida show arrived in the Southern Tier of Upstate New York. It was only one of the scores of appearances this decade by the economic-development guru, whose speaking fee soared to $35,000 not long after his 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class made him a star on the lecture circuit. Cleveland, Toledo, Baltimore, Greensboro, Green Bay, Des Moines, Hartford, Roanoke, and Rochester were among the many cities that had already shelled out to hear from the good-looking urban-studies professor about how to get young professionals to move in.

Of course, none of these burgs has yet completed the transformation from post-manufacturing ugly duckling to gay-friendly, hipster swan. But middling results elsewhere did not keep people in the greater Elmira area from getting excited about Florida's visit. They listened as, in his stylish suit and designer glasses, he related his blue-collar upbringing outside Newark before segueing into his secrets of urban success in the 21st century: the "three T's" of technology, talent, and tolerance. If cities could make themselves appealing to the Web designers, architects, biomedical researchers, and other innovators who are now the drivers of economic growth, then they would also attract the businesses that want these footloose pioneers to work for them. "If we do all of the above," reported a columnist with Elmira's Star-Gazette who attended the speech, "we can be creatively chic without having to move to Boulder, Colo."

Inspired, Elmira's newly elected mayor, John Tonello, hung artwork on City Hall's walls, installed "poetry posts" around town featuring verses by local writers, and oversaw the redevelopment of several buildings downtown. "The grand hope was to create retail spaces that would enable people to make money and serve the creative class Florida talks about," Tonello says. The new market-rate apartments filled up quickly, but the bohemian coffee shops the mayor fantasizes about have yet to materialize.

As Elmira and other cities on Florida's circuit dutifully carry out his instructions, though, the guru has grown less confident in their prospects. In a warm-up to his next book -- The Great Reset, due out in April -- Florida has been arguing that the recession has so decimated many cities and regions that it's time for the country to cut its losses and instead encourage growth in places that are prospering, like Silicon Valley, Boulder, Austin, and North Carolina's Research Triangle. And the rest? In his much-cited cover story in the March issue of The Atlantic -- "How the Crash Will Reshape America" -- he delivered the harsh news: "We need to be clear that ultimately, we can't stop the decline of some places, and that we would be foolish to try. ... Different eras favor different places, along with the industries and lifestyles those places embody. ... We need to let demand for the key products and lifestyles of the old order fall, and begin building a new economy, based on a new geography." More here.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Unneighborly tussle for Northrop HQ

Md., D.C., Va. wooing Fortune 100 company
By Jamie Smith Hopkins |

January 6, 2010

There's nothing like competing for the headquarters of one of the nation's largest companies to make neighboring jurisdictions feel less neighborly.

When defense-contracting giant Northrop Grumman Corp. announced this week that it will move its Los Angeles headquarters to the Washington region, officials in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia immediately pledged to woo the company with aggressive campaigns to showcase their strengths, such as a highly educated work force, good schools or low taxes. Those efforts could include tax breaks or other financial incentives.

"Game's on," said Jim Dinegar, president and chief executive of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which positions itself as a neutral cheerleader in this three-way match.

It's the prestige of being home to a Fortune 100 headquarters that local leaders particularly want, along with having highly paid top executives as residents and the extra charitable giving, civic involvement and economic growth they can provide. Where one big firm moves, economic developers hope, others will follow.

Northrop Grumman already employs more than 40,000 in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, so the 300 extra jobs that would come with its main office are a small number by comparison.

For Maryland, success would be especially sweet. The state has had a long history of losing headquarters to mergers, the latest being Black & Decker of Towson. It also has a reputation for being less friendly to business than Virginia, whose officials noted Tuesday that the state has been ranked No. 1 four years in a row on the "Best States For Business" list at (Maryland was 12th on the most recent ranking, pulled down in part by its higher taxes.)

"When we look at Northrop, to us, that's one of those opportunities that doesn't come around very often," said Christian S. Johansson, Maryland's secretary of business and economic development. "We're going to be aggressively pursuing this. ... We can really make a good business case for why Northrop should be choosing Maryland." More here.

Oxnard's image needs an overhaul, officials say

By Scott Hadly
Ventura County Star

Nike has its swoosh; Apple Computers has its, well, apple; and McDonald’s has its golden arches.

But what about the city of Oxnard? What does it have?

While plenty of local residents might answer that question with a dig about gangs, graffiti or foreclosures, others say those images of the city aren’t based in reality.

“Oxnard — and I’m sorry to say this to you; it’s nothing personal — but Oxnard has been beat down by the media,” said downtown print shop owner Gaston Gomez. “We get a bad rap.”

Gomez has a point.

The city known in Ventura County for strawberries and a gang injunction has a bit of an image problem.

Oxnard’s crime rate may be lower than Beverly Hills’ and Santa Barbara’s as well as Santa Paula’s and Ventura’s, for that matter, but you wouldn’t know it talking to many people who live in the county.

Say Oxnard, and many people think gangs and crime. Part of the reason for that is a lingering impression from a time, particularly in the 1990s, when gang violence and crime was much more of a problem. But the city’s gritty image goes back even further, said historian and Councilman Jeff Maulhardt, who dates some of it back as far as the early 20th century when there were seedy opium dens and bars downtown.

Yet the rough image lingers, and some argue that stories about crime in the city of almost 200,000 often trump the day-to-day reality of the city.

It’s a point that’s been made before by Mayor Tom Holden and City Manager Ed Sotelo, who have argued that there’s disproportionate focus on crime in Oxnard by the media and that has skewed perceptions about the county’s largest city.

Correct false impressions

“Let me see if I can put it into words,” Gaston said. “I don’t see crime, and I’m downtown every day. I leave my car doors open.”

He said the city has a lot to offer: beaches, farm fields, a historic downtown with turn-of-the-century homes all in what is arguably the most diverse coastal community in California.

“And I’ve never seen a city that has a bus and train terminal downtown, then maybe 10 blocks from that an airstrip and two miles from that a port,” Gaston said. “What city has that?”

Oxnard civic leaders are working on branding the city, to correct false impressions, and in turn strengthen Oxnard’s image and attract new businesses and visitors.

“There’s no question that people either have a negative perception of Oxnard or they don’t know anything about it,” said Roger Brooks, of Destination Development International, a consulting firm hired by the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau to develop a brand for the city.

Branding the city isn’t about a logo or a tag line, but about finding what makes Oxnard unique, Brooks said.

The process involves distilling what is distinct and good about the city and putting it into a message that resonates. Brooks rattles off examples of cities that have successful brands that seamlessly connect to what is unique to the communities, whether it’s Napa and wine, Hollywood and movies or Huntington Beach and surfing. More here.

Piedmont Triad Representatives Share Regional Marketing Message

PIEDMONT TRIAD - Representatives from the Piedmont Triad will travel to Greenville and Spartanburg, SC, and Charlotte this week to meet with site selection consultants, commercial developers and real estate brokers. In addition to three scheduled meetings, the Piedmont Triad Partnership (PTP) will host a luncheon and a regional briefing for real estate brokers and consultants from the Charlotte area.

Kelly Stuart, Vice President, Client Development, will represent the PTP on the trip. Participating local economic developers are Todd Tucker, President, Surry County Economic Development Partnership; Robert Leak, President, Winston-Salem Business Inc; Wade Taylor, Vice President, Rockingham County Partnership for Economic Development.

“Greenville/Spartanburg and Charlotte are important markets for us,” says Don Kirkman, President and CEO of the PTP. “The Greenville/Spartanburg region is home to some of the industry’s top site selection consulting firms, while a number of national industrial and commercial brokerage firms have regional offices in Charlotte. Maintaining active relationships with these groups and keeping them apprised of current activity and opportunities in the Piedmont Triad is a key element of our marketing program,” adds Kirkman..

The Piedmont Triad Partnership (PTP), one of seven regional economic development partnerships in North Carolina, is the economic development organization representing the 12-county Piedmont Triad region. The PTP is the lead organization for the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative, which supports the development of an integrated regional economic development and workforce development strategy for the Piedmont Triad. The Piedmont Triad, the nation's 37th-largest metro region with more than 1.5 million residents, includes the counties of Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin.

WAEDC refines city marketing strategies

Managing Editor
Wapakoneta Daily News

Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council (WAEDC) members intend to tweak their marketing campaign this year to build on past efforts to promote the organization and the city’s Job Ready Site manufacturing location.

WAEDC Executive Director Greg Myers said they plan to shift their attention in an effort to better market industrial and commercial sites within Wapakoneta.

“The Site Sales Committee discussed rather than doing trade shows that we concentrate on site consultant conferences which are held throughout the United States,” Myers said. “These meetings actually have site consultants there so we could network with them.

“I suggested this since our mail campaign has done a great job of introducing our sites to them so it would be nice to interact with them and spread the word about Wapakoneta,” he said.

One regional site consultant conference is being held in Columbus.

This strategy would coincide with work being done by the Marketing Development Team, whose members are planning on developing a social media presence and a maintenance strategy as well as an e-mail marketing campaign.

“In marketing, most of our efforts are going to be in Web site enhancements because we still feel this is the most important tool we have and we need to upgrade that site,” Myers said.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Region's water to be marketed to draw new businesses

By Lynn Hulsey, Staff Writer
5:31 PM Tuesday, January 5, 2010

DAYTON — Marketing the region’s water is the latest tool in the area’s economic development arsenal, with officials hoping to capitalize on the huge underground aquifer, according to Maureen Patterson, vice president of stakeholder relations for the Dayton Development Coalition.

Speaking Tuesday, Jan. 5, at the Montgomery County Commission work session, Patterson said H2Open for Business will tout the Dayton region’s water-related assets in an effort to draw new businesses. Officials also hope to develop the area as a “water knowledge center” leading to student internships and jobs and as a destination for water-related professional and technical events.

The city of Dayton, the Miami Conservancy District and the county are partners in the effort, which is in the early stages. They’ve set up the Dayton Region Water Roundtable, which includes a variety of government, business, educational and other leaders. Officials hope to eventually include all public suppliers of water in the area. Dayton firm Real Art came up with the marketing slogan and the coalition will hire a consulting and marketing company to assist with the effort, Patterson said.

She said the 1.5 trillion gallon buried aquifer and 6,000 miles of rivers and streams in the Miami Valley offers 220 million gallons of unused water capacity per day. Just as the region touts its “crossroads of America” location at the intersection of interstates 75 and 70, officials also hope the water supply can be a draw for manufacturers and other businesses.

“Bringing Coke from Atlanta would be a great thing,” Patterson joked, prompting laughter from officials still stinging from NCR’s decision to relocate to Georgia.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Horizon Council: Partnerships key to re-branding area

Cities, businesses look at how to work together

What's in a name? Ask any marketing executive and they will tell you it's the name that is paramount in helping a brand to enter the public consciousness. When Lee County's Economic Development Office began exploring new ways of effectively promoting the area as a great place to do business, they had to consider its name as part of its brand and overall public perception.

After much research, the county's economic development office decided to re-brand itself and now flies under a new flag: the Fort Myers Regional Partnership.

"Where's Lee County? It's in Florida, Virginia, Georgia - it's all over," said Jim Moore, county economic development director. "Fort Myers is the name more people living outside the region recognize." And thorough research supports that notion, demonstrating that name recognition for Fort Myers was far greater than that for Lee County among both Americans and potential visitors from abroad - logic that city business and community leaders have also embraced.

Jennifer Berg, spokeswoman for the Fort Myers Regional Partnership, said the office is excited to launch its new brand and will be rolling it out over the next several months - including a new logo, television and radio spots, countywide advertising and a prominent billboard campaign.

"We're very optimistic about our new positioning for this area, and were able to successfully develop a brand that incorporates all of our major cities including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Sanibel, and of course Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach." This is reflected in the partnership's new logo and throughout all of its marketing materials. The campaign is also based on the positioning statement of "Together, We Mean Business."

"Working together is a powerful force, especially when it comes to attracting businesses and creating jobs," said Berg. "'Together, We Mean Business' is an optimal statement to not only position the partnership as a multi-city consortium, but to also emphasize to businesses that working with us can be mutually and economically beneficial.

"We're also taking a unique approach to promoting our area's economic diversity by raising awareness from the inside, out," explained Berg. "Residents and visitors will begin to see the partnership's presence across a countywide billboard campaign and in television and radio commercials. We'll be supporting this campaign with internal initiatives that will encourage local employees and residents to refer businesses and professionals to the partnership, and ultimately to our area."

The Horizon Council has also formed a task force to encourage the community to become an active partner in economic development initiatives in Lee County. As one person, you may not think you can help attract or expand businesses to Lee County. But an idea you have, or a person you know, just may be what we're looking for. With an exceptional workforce, pro-business environment and, right now, $25 million in incentives, we have the perfect climate for new and expanding companies.

Submit a valid idea to expand or attract a business to Lee County, or send us a qualified lead at If your lead turns into an expansion or location, you will receive a signed and numbered, limited edition print by renowned artist Ikki Matsumoto of Southwest Florida - and the satisfaction of helping your community create valuable jobs.

For complete details, visit or call the Fort Myers Regional Partnership at 338-3161.

Saginaw declares its green-energy identity

By Kathryn Lynch-Morin | The Saginaw News

In Saginaw County, the future is green.

Saginaw Future Inc. is launching a new logo the organization will use as a visual statement that Saginaw is the place to be for green, renewable technology and business.

“We felt that it was important to incorporate opportunities in green technology and alternative energy in a single glance,” said JoAnn T. Crary, president of Saginaw Future, an economic development agency. “We also included elements from the regional branding campaign that Saginaw Future plays an essential role in.”

The new logo is marked by budding leaves and the earthy colors of cool blue and green, reflecting growth in the region’s environmental industries, green technology and new energy sources. The word “Future” in the logo is displayed in bold, green capital letters. Saginaw Future said that element displays confidence, freshness and opportunity.

“The new logo instantly tells people what we are and where we are headed,” Crary said.

Saginaw County is home to Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., one of the world’s largest makers of polycrystalline silicon, a building block for solar panels.

Saginaw Future recently played a significant role in the selection of Saginaw as the future home of GlobalWatt Inc.’s 500-job, $177 million solar module production plant.

GlobalWatt Corporate Executive Officer Sanjeev Chitre and Gov. Jennifer Granholm credited Saginaw Future and Crary’s involvement when the announcement was made in December.

Saginaw Future said the logo makeover was done to create a memorable first impression in a market flooded with business recruiters from competing regions. It said the new logo will quickly reflect the core advantages offered by running a business in Saginaw County.

“We are inviting them and their companies, employees and families to come grow with us,” Crary said of the new logo.

Saginaw Future, which promotes job creation through the expansion of local industry and the attraction of new business projects, is a public-private alliance of local businesses, Saginaw County, the city of Saginaw, 16 local municipalities and the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Surry group plans ambitious campaign

Despite recent decisions by three industries to open manufacturing plants in Mount Airy, the lead economic-development agency in Surry County isn’t about to rest on its laurels on the basis of that success.

Instead, the Surry Economic Development Partnership (EDP) is planning to launch an ambitious effort with the start of the new year which it hopes will lead to more jobs generated locally.

“We’re working on a new marketing plan, and getting a new marketing committee,” EDP President Todd Tucker said of various strategies planned for 2010 by the organization. It works with Surry’s four municipalities and the county government to seek industry through a public-private partnership.

Tucker said the overall goal of upcoming efforts is to be “a little bit more proactive” in recruiting new industry to the county, “just increasing our presence.”

One part of the plan will involve spending more time on the road trying to generate prospects, which Tucker said could mean trips to Charlotte and the Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina and meetings with site-selection consultants.

Tucker, who has been EDP president for less than six months, explained that a constant multi-faceted approach is needed by the organization in a recruitment climate that is more competitive than ever.

Along with additional efforts involving “beating the bushes” Tucker said the EDP will take full advantage of all other resources to generate prospects. This will include updating its marketing materials, and making changes to the organization’s Web site.

“We might get involved with social media like Twitter and Facebook and just some things like that,” Tucker said of Internet communications tools that are helping average people stay in touch but also are seeing increased use in the business community.

In a recent update to the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners concerning the EDP’s work, Tucker said there has been heightened activity recently by companies expressing an interest in establishing operations in Surry County. More are coming, looking and “kicking the tires, so to speak,” he said.

Tucker said this increased interest also has been accompanied by wide ranges in the types of businesses investigating Surry, which have included operations such as call centers in addition to traditional manufacturing entities. “So it’s across the board,” he added.

In the last four months of 2009, announcements came from three companies agreeing to launch operations in Mount Airy: Central States Manufacturing Inc. in September, Catalina Tempering in November and Granite Tactical in December.

An announcement is pending from a fourth company, which sources say is a bakery manufacturer, regarding a potential expansion at Piedmont Triad West Corporate Park.

Before coming to Surry County, Tucker worked for more than 15 years in various economic-development roles with entities including the N.C. Department of Commerce and Progress Energy.

“He has definitely hit the ground running,” said Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran.

Contact Tom Joyce at or at 719-1924.

Friday, January 01, 2010

One for all: Regionalism, USA

By Tim Stuhldreher

If Pennsylvanians saw how well regionalism works elsewhere in the country, they'd realize how much they are missing out on, argues Alex Hartzler, managing partner of WCI Partners, a Harrisburg real estate development firm.
Charlotte, N.C., is one place that has been very smart in its regional thinking, he said. That has helped the Mecklenburg County city of 687,000 people become a thriving financial center and even attract two professional sports teams, the NFL's Carolina Panthers and the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.

Charlotte has been thinking regionally for at least two decades, said Gina Howard, director of communications and public relations for the Charlotte Regional Partnership, a public-private economic development partnership.

The partnership originally was known as the Greater Charlotte Economic Development Council and was an arm of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Howard said. In 1991, the council was relaunched as a regional marketing program covering 12 counties. The following year, it was renamed and became a standalone organization, she said.

Today, the partnership markets 12 North Carolina and four South Carolina counties to the world as a single unit under the brand "Charlotte USA," she said. Unified marketing materials, including a comprehensive Web site, offer companies considering relocation a vast wealth of business and demographic information.

"There's no gain in trying to compete against each other," she said. "As long as companies stay within our region, we win." More here.