April 2, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) aims to find out how effectively it is promoting the community as part of its efforts to attract new businesses and industries.
The EDC has contracted with Anstey Hodge Advertising Group of Roanoke to help it determine whether a “rebranding” of the organization is needed.
The process, EDC Recruiting and Marketing Director Lisa Lyle said, “just helps you determine how you’re going to market yourself” in the future.
For example, the initiative may show whether the EDC should continue using its “Speed to Market” slogan, Lyle said. Alluding to the area’s racing heritage, including Martinsville Speedway, the slogan is designed to show the EDC aims to help prospective firms set up operations locally as fast as possible.
The end result of the ongoing initiative could be changes such as a new motto or logo, Lyle said.
EDC officials maintain, though, that nothing has given them any indication they should alter their strategies.
“We just want to take a fresh look” at what the organization is doing, Lyle said.
There are no preconceived ideas, said EDC President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Heath. He said, for instance, the initiative “could tell us we’re positioned perfectly” in terms of the organization promoting itself and the community, or it could reveal “we need to change everything.”
The EDC just wants to make sure it is communicating the right message publicly, Heath said.
It is a “pretty standard thing,” he added, for organizations every few years to examine whether they need to undergo rebranding.
Now is a good time to do it, Heath and Lyle said, as the EDC prepares to move to a new location.
The EDC has offices in the SunTrust bank building on East Church Street uptown. Later this year, it plans to move to the New College Institute (NCI) building on the Baldwin Block, which is expected to be completed in May.
The new location will help the EDC show visiting corporate executives how NCI is raising the educational levels of area residents. Companies prefer to locate in places with a well-educated workforce, local officials have said.
Also, they have said, the new location will help the EDC showcase amenities such as the Patriot Centre industrial park and Commonwealth Centre, the old Tultex factory that has been revamped and now houses various businesses. Both facilities are visible from an upper floor of the NCI building where the EDC will have its new offices.
Part of the EDC’s initiative involves examining whether benefits of living, working and running a business in Henry County-Martinsville have changed, Lyle said.
Those benefits, the EDC’s website shows, include a low cost of living, mild climate and easy access to many recreational and cultural amenities, as well as the community’s location within 650 miles to most places in the eastern, southern and midwestern portions of the United States.
Lyle said the initiative also includes “a lot of interviewing and surveying” of community stakeholders such as local officials, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, The Harvest Foundation, school officials and industry executives.
Representatives of companies that considered locating in Henry County and Martinsville but decided to go elsewhere also may be interviewed, she said.
Heath declined to say how much the EDC is paying Anstey Hodge for its services. However, he said the cost will be paid through the EDC’s “regular marketing budget.”He expects the initiative to be completed by this summer, he added.
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