Officials ponder branding region

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County officials are looking to work with Montgomery County to develop a brand for the bi-county region.

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz requested the project before the Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development and Environment Committee on Tuesday at the County Office Building.

Mraz, executive director of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, said one of the offshoots of a visit last month to Fulton and Montgomery counties by international site selector Michael Mullis was his suggestion Fulton County develop an identity “relative to economic development.” He said Mullis recommended the bi-county region perform a “branding exercise” to develop an identifiable name-logo for the region. Mullis said that would make the region recognized and identified by corporate site selectors.

It was noted the Montgomery County IDA in June hired North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville, Tenn., to develop a brand for its county.

Mraz requested and received authorization from his oversight panel Tuesday to have Fulton County execute an agreement with the Montgomery County IDA to hire the same company to develop what he called a “Community BrandPrint” for the bi-county region.

The request goes before the Finance Committee on Thursday and the full board Oct. 14.

He said the total fee is $46,000. Fulton County government would pay $13,000, National Grid would contribute $23,000 and the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth would kick in $10,000.

“North Star does this all over the country,” Mraz said. “They’ve been in business 13 years.”

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead noted this would be the first “action item” to be approved by supervisors coming out of Mullis’ area visit.

Mraz said he would leave it up to the Finance Committee on where Fulton County’s $13,000 share would come from. He said Fulton County’s action involves an amendment to the Montgomery County IDA contract and adding $46,000 worth of work to the project. He said Fulton County enters into a contract with the Montgomery County IDA and would pay that entity. He said Montgomery County doesn’t need to sign off on Fulton County’s action.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. “We need to move forward. We need jobs. We’ve got to go.”

Montgomery County residents are already involved in an online survey related to the project. Mraz released an extensive “scope of work” to be done by North Star, which includes an analysis of the region related to education, research and planning, insights, creativity and action.

He said North Star anxiously awaits Fulton County’s participation.

“They are ready to proceed,” Mraz said. “They’re probably talking about finishing it in the second quarter of next year.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at