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Thread: Marketing or establishing a town as something to attract economic development

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
    Apr 2004
    Tri-Cities, Washington
    Blog entries

    Marketing or establishing a town as something to attract economic development

    Well, some things discussed last night at my (fledgling) economic development board meeting were how to market the town in order to bring in Economic Development, Business and Industry.

    What should we look for?
    We discussed the feel of the town, and what people in the region and state think of when they hear the town's name. Maybe establishing some attraction based upon that.

    What about trying to establish the community with an identity. The town where I work established itself as an art/sculpture community, and during the 1950s went for the "retirement" community persona. Establishing a town theme stemmed into attracting businesses to fit that "mold" and even tweeking the development code to suit the theme.

    Would this work for where I live or would it be something that has to be handled with kid gloves?

    What do you all think?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone

  2. #2
    We have recently gone thru this early Establishment process:
    Do you have any natural features nearby, i.e.: waterfalls, cliffs, hills, mountains, rivers, lakes?
    Do you have a city seal to incorporate something significant to the community?
    Is there a city slogan/mantra that the city staff is working toward?

    Possibly a think-tank of (10-20) local business leaders and policital leaders should be assembled to make a "business plan" (begin with SWOT analysis) for the city and play off the demographical and geographical strengths to become known for. Depending on how well you play off that, then you will become well-known regionally or possibly nationally for what you do well. This takes pressure off a small group of people - namely your board- to come up with a flopper idea. GOOD LUCK and have fun with it. It is hard to get people to brag about themselves to find out what they are really good at. (Remember, that's the toughest job interview question) This type of thing usually takes years to see a plan like this to fruition, so make sure no one expects anything overnight, because it rarely (if ever) happens.

    Marketing - Join Main Streets Assn. (if possible) to get funding for billboards/commercials/advertisements. If Main Streets isn't an option, remember the core group of stakeholders (business owners, schools) should be willing to hold fund raisers for this self-promotion. The rest will take care of itself.
    Last edited by ssnyderjr; 08 Sep 2006 at 12:01 PM.

  3. #3
    Nov 2005
    In the Peach State
    Read "Primal Branding" and get what insight you can about the community based upon general ad executive marketing practices.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Sep 2001
    skating on thin ice
    Having worked the majority of my career in declining rural places, I provide the following advice:

    1) Be yourself/ your place. If another place has already thought of it and is doing it well, don't say you want to be like that place, you never will and if you are then you'll only be a pale comparison.

    2) Don't expect others to come in and rescue you. if locals don't want it, why should others? Make it about choice and about buying in to the choice.

    3) Be realistic. Just because you have an runway, does not mean you can be competitive in the aeronautics industry. (honest 1 place thought this)

    4) define what you are trying to do. Is it ECCD to increase the tax base or ECCD to provide jobs or is it ECCD to provide needed services.

    5) Establish a policy that the committee will buy services and products locally for their Committee tasks (no chains allowed either). Pass this idea onto the City and other businesses

    6) Examine how and why your city got the way it is. It will be teling. Look at demogrpahics, education, core industries. Do a SWOT analysis as if you were a business in town. Pick a few from various sectors and see if they over lap.

    That is all I can think of for now. I am sure Cardinal has some thoughts on this.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    I keep coming back to this thread and wonder about why a city would need to brand its self like that?

    Grand Rapids is going though this process now (although its development is going full force already) and the first two attempts at a marketing campaign have been very sad.

    The first was:
    Grand Rapids, Keep it a secret.

    Now it’s
    Grand Rapids, Enjoy it now.

    I think that the dozen or so massive construction cranes that are visible from the freeway are much better for marketing.

    I guess a good place to start would be asking “what do developers look for?”
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian yesteryear's avatar
    Apr 2006
    No Cal
    Grand Rapids.
    Keep it a Secret... is hilarious, by the way.

    I agree - I think it's a little sad when you see cities embarassing themselves, but unfortunately it's necessary. Everyone wants $$ - and the only way to grow the tax base is to convince people that your city is where they want to be.

    In terms of starting something like this - someone said gathering together the existing business owners (or maybe choose the ones who are in industries you'd like to attract more of) - this is a good idea. Talk to them about what they want to see change and what they want to stay the same... and engage them in getting involved. Part of Economic Development is retaining the existing businesses and letting them know that it's not a gentrification process taking place.

    In terms of branding, what about a survey of the city's residents? One question... "what is your favorite thing about our city?". That could be expensive depending on how big the city is, but it would be interesting.

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