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Taking Matters into Our Own Hands as a Region
November 11, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
A Marketing Co-op & Regional Chamber: Part 3
I remember what my pilot instructor told me that fateful day when he said I was ready to fly solo for the first time. “You can complain that you are not ready. You can complain about the weather. You can yell and scream at me for putting you in this position. But in the end, when you have this plane up in the air, the only one that can successfully conclude this venture – is you.”
In the end it is up to us to make changes happen.
Once again our taxes our rising and depending on where you live it can be more painful than others and you ask yourself the question why that is? What can I do to make changes happen?
Let Government Be Government
I think we too may need to change our thinking of government’s role. We often believe locally that when we talk about local or community initiatives we need to get local government “involved.” Perhaps worse yet, we believe that many of our community initiatives, need to be funded by government. And finally perhaps the worst crime: we wait for local government to take the lead.
When it comes to raising revenue should the business community take the lead?
You must also be willing to take calculated risks and not be afraid to try some things that might ultimately fail. Besides doing the best you can to mitigate the failure, I wonder sometimes if we are afraid to try because of public and family embarrassment.
Can we help our local governments with business ideas on how to raise revenue on such issues as the Adirondack Regional Airport? Should the business community take the lead in business recruitment? As we ask our governments to become leaner, should they focus on consolidation, cooperation on municipal services while we seek to stimulate business? Businesses talking business and how to increase it while government focus on consolidating services?
Perhaps we have not told local government that we look at you differently today - just like we look at our own businesses differently in this economy.
Perhaps we don’t want our leaders to “lead” anymore. Do we really care if it is a village thing or a town? Perhaps we would rather see our community leaders – nonprofit and government – be more networkers and collaborators – and to focus on their strength – coordinating and consolidating services.
Let Business Generate Revenue - for the Community
So what we can do on the business side? Take an active part in the new brand of social entrepreneurship. And it’s not the same old doing business as a community group anymore. We too have to consolidate and coordinate and network if we are going to take advantage of the new economic engines.
This is particularly true in a relationship to local marketing and business development.
So how about this on a regional marketing and business development front: one Tri-Lakes chamber focusing on business recruitment and assistance. One purpose and one set of dues.
How about a regional marketing cooperative? One purpose and one set of dues.
I threw out some ideas on how these two separate regional efforts might work over the last two articles.
How do we get this started?
On the marketing side, how about a regional meeting that has nothing to do with which community you live in. The only qualification is that you believe that perhaps together we can become a more powerful, or at least better organized, tourism revenue generator – a benefit to all of us.
Just like we are asking our local governments to work together, can we get over our own historical competitiveness and jealousies and work together? Is it even worth it to consider this?
A ROUND-TABLE OF STAKEHOLDERS
How might such a regional co-op marketing meeting look like? A roundtable of stakeholders that includes and prioritizes:
1. Begins to build a team and develop a coordinated effort:
Layer #1: Local events: At the top of the marketing pyramid, not the bottom, are all the local, volunteer efforts to put on events. This is where true marketing starts. Unfortunately, for many of these volunteer efforts, they are also responsible for all the marketing.
Layer #2: Local Groups: These range from downtown merchant associations, artist and wellness guilds, local chambers, ARISE and others.
Layer #3: County & Regional Efforts This involves our county tourism efforts as well as regional organizations such as the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, ANCA and others.
Layer #4: State & Federal Efforts
2. Developing a Regional Calendar of Events To literally take sheets of paper, by month and begin to list all of the events that will take place. To then place this calendar on an online board so that others can contribute to a “live” interactive calendar.
3. Begin to create the infrastructure of a regional marketing co-op effort. This is not necessarily ANOTHER organization; it can just be an informal roundtable of stakeholders: - Interested businesses - Interested groups such as artist guilds, event volunteers such as carnival, etc - Local, community and regional marketing organizations such as the village, the chambers, county and regional tourism. - This roundtable will be facilitated by marketing organizations to ensure that we have all the pieces necessary to take advantage of the new marketing
4. Getting the word out there. Perhaps initially this is nothing more than establishing a regional event calendar, ensuring we are all taking advantage of the resources available to us. If we think big, perhaps this could be the beginning of using our marketing power as THE Adirondack region.
Where do all of our individual businesses fit into this effort? We may gain a better understanding of what locally; the counties and the region are planning. Furthermore, by putting all of us on the same roundtable, we may have a better understanding of how are businesses can leverage these resources and work in partnership with them to ensure that our properties, image and events – our story - is being told.
We do not need to reinvent the wheel here. In fact, our focus needs to be how we can leverage all of these resources into a more coordinated effort. Simply put: Can we get this region on the same marketing page?
Recruiting Business as a Region
A region that relies only on tourism – is usually not a healthy one.
On the business development front, perhaps the same matrix can utilized. Perhaps led by the local chambers, ARISE, AEDC, Clarkson Business Center, the county IDA’s and others, the same collaboration, inventory of resources and marketing cooperation can be established.
Again even if small steps can be achieved like a coordinated “Red Carpet Team,” simple marketing materials and a well identified “who do we send our business inquiries to?” Of course the big picture here would be to gather all of our economic potential as a region with our business parks, biomedical firms and other industries and actually create a coordinated regional business recruitment effort.
Perhaps, we can begin to have a community discussion on this via this blog.
In this new world, it really is up to us to affect change – and there are new tools to do it. It’s okay to say I don’t know. I don’t either. But I do know we are rich in one other area when you think of all the unparalleled resources around us – you and I.
What do you think?
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