By Brian Graves, News Editor
Monday, September 30, 2013 —
Stanly County government leaders are considering joining forces to instigate a “branding” campaign for the cities, towns and county.
The idea is to give both the county and each individual community a recognizable identity that can help attract potential businesses to the area.
County Manager Andy Lucas addressed the leaders during a meeting of the Council of Governments liaison committee formed by mayors and city managers.
Lucas has already addressed the idea to the county commission following the city of Albemarle’s decision to adopt its own economic development plan.
“The county and city are working to develop a joint RFP (request for proposal) for branding,” Lucas said.
“They are interested in doing branding for the city specifically, but the county is interested in doing something more countywide. We thought if we joined together we could leverage some purchasing power and get a better rate.”
Lucas said there would be some interrelationships between what was developed for the county and the cities that would want to be involved.
“I want to make sure the other municipalities knew we were doing this and if you are interested in doing this for your municipality let us know and we could include you in the RFP as well,” Lucas said.
He noted that for Albemarle and the county to hire two different consultants could cause the brands to conflict and could increase the cost to both entities.
“The thought process is to save the citizens some money and get some synergy going,” Lucas said.
He said the municipalities would not be committed to any spending should request to be added to the RFP.
The county commission has not made a commitment to go with the branding idea, but has said it would like to develop the RFP and see what would be involved if it wanted to move forward.
“We have money set aside in the strategy fund, but we haven’t said ‘yes,’ ” Lucas said.
Lucas said he would work with Albemarle City Manager Ray Allen sometime in the next week to complete the RFP.
“We hope to get information back to go back to the boards by November or December,” Lucas said.
Albemarle Mayor “Whit” Whitley said the city’s decision to hire its own economic director and pursue its own avenues on development does not mean the city will not work with the county on those issues.
“The number one thing our task force requested was to go ahead with branding,” Whitley said.
“Hopefully, we will get together (with the county) and do the branding together.”
He said citizens have expressed the desire for the city to “get more and more involved” with industrial development.
“The strange part about that is we have very little land mass to put an industry,” Whitley said.
“But if any industry comes even outside (the city), we get the benefit of it.”
He said the city was advertising for an industrial developer and was hopeful that hiring would be made by the first of the year.
“That individual will work hand in hand with (County Economic Director) Paul Stratos. It’s not something where we would work in opposition to what Paul is doing,” Whitley said.
“The city is just as interested in getting (industry) in the county, maybe more so than (getting industry) in the city. We just don’t have that much land to operate with in the city.”
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