Tipp City Council is being asked to consider participating in a countywide branding project being coordinated by the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Project supporters are working on securing funding for the around $88,000 branding effort. Those being asked to help pay are cities, the county, chambers of commerce, Main Street organizations, county park district and foundations.
Diana Thompson, county visitors and convention bureau executive director, talked with council about the branding effort during a work session before the May 21 council meeting.
“We’re putting in $30,000 because we believe in it,” Thompson said of the visitor’s bureau board.
The information collected in the work to develop the brand could be used for tourism as well as economic development, she said.
The company the bureau hopes to hire starts with “an enormous amount of research” on an area including what locals think as well as “what outside people are saying about us,” Thompson said. Including cities and other organizations across the county is important, she said, because “we are all partners when it comes to the big picture.”
Among forms of research would be focus groups, online community survey, talking with tour operators and those who recently moved to the area and “undercover” interviews in addition to visits to communities.
Among questions to be answered: what motivates people to come to this area and to come back and how much are they spending?
The cities of Troy and Piqua each have committed $5,000 toward the project that would include research, development of a “brand” for the area and suggested marketing strategies. Tipp City has been asked to consider the same level of support.
The county commissioners are looking at initially contributing $2,000.
Project supporters want to hire an organization called North Star to conduct the Community Brand Print process.
The goal of that process, according to a funding request to a local foundation, is “to become distinctive by creating a brand that will hold true to our quality of life experiences.”
The Visitors Bureau at this time uses the theme of “From town to farm, experience historic charm,” but Thompson said there is no clear brand for the county other than it is “the county of Dayton.”
The research-based process works to get a “focused snapshot of a community’s values, assets and priorities, which can then be articulated as its ‘brand,’” the request letter states.
City Manager Jon Crusey said if council is interested, the city could get with North Star to obtain more information for further discussion.
Councilman Pat Hale said he would “rather hear the options” directly from the company. “I like the idea of the research and would like to know what we could do with downtown Tipp City,” he said.
Thompson said hopes are to get the project under way on July 1, and she doesn’t expect the consultants to be in the area again before work would begin. The project is expected to take 28-32 weeks.
Brad Vath, assistant city manager, said if council is interested in being part of the project, it would make the initial commitment of $5,000, then discuss with North Star more specific work desired for the community. Thompson said Troy and Piqua have expressed interest in the company doing specific work for their communities in addition to the countywide branding.
Thompson said it appears around $50,000 has been committed to the project so far. She is waiting for a response from a foundation that has been asked to provide $28,000.
She was asked why the county, Troy, Piqua and Tipp City were the only municipalities asked to contribute. Thompson said villages were not approached because with known financial restraints for governments today supporters “cannot imagine it would be feasible” for those communities to commit $5,000.
Councilman Joe Gibson said a smaller amount, such as $1,000, would help with costs and would be reasonable because those communities would benefit as much as the others asked to commit money.
Thompson said chambers of commerce have been asked to pay $500, again because of financial constraints.
Crusey said at this point none of the Tipp City organizations (downtown partnership, chamber) have decided on a commitment.
Vath, who also serves as city economic development director, said the project would provide the city with information it currently does not have now. He sees the project as providing economic development tools to look at local weaknesses and strengths.
“Joining together we get a lot more bang for the buck,” Vath said.