Officials discuss regional brand

JOHNSTOWN – Two representatives of a consulting firm working on a regional branding project recently discussed the endeavor with Fulton County officials.

Ed Barlow, vice president and director of client services for North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville, and Lori Odom, the firm’s vice president of research and economic development, attended a meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development-Environment Committee at the County Office Building on Tuesday.

“Community branding is all we do,” Odom stated. “We specialize in working with communities.”

She said this region already seems “ahead of the curve.”

“I’m impressed by all of the resources I see in Fulton and Montgomery counties,” Odom stated.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors in October authorized a contract between the county and the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency to hire North Star Destination Strategies to develop a brand for the two counties.

The “community blueprint” is being developed by the firm for economic development marketing purposes at a total cost of $46,000. The direct cost to Fulton County is $13,000. National Grid is paying $23,000 of the cost. The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth is contributing $10,000 through proceeds of a 2013 marketing contract with Fulton County.

The Montgomery County IDA first hired North Star to conduct a branding project for its county in June, but the IDA agreed to amend that contract to expand its scope of work to a project for both counties.

North Star wants organizations, businesses, community and elected leaders, and the public to provide input for the firm to use in development of a regional logo. A public vision survey was done in conjunction with the branding.

Odom said she “applauds” Fulton County legislators for trying to improve the county. She said North Star often works with site selectors, and has spent the last few months auditing Fulton County’s materials and going through hundreds of pages, learning about the county and looking at the region’s “competition.”

In New York state, Barlow said, North Star has done similar branding projects in Jamestown, Chautauqua County, and in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County. He said the firm has worked in Providence, R.I., and Augusta, Ga. He said the firm tried to get Augusta’s “message across” that the city – known most famously for the annual Masters Tournament – has more going for it than just golf.

Odom said the firm has more recently been involved in branding projects in Highland Park, Ill. and Broken Bow, Neb.