Municipalities all over the country go at marketing themselves in different ways. Sometimes it’s in a specific direction, like tourism. Or their efforts are aimed at trying to court new businesses into town. In Kenai, those sorts of questions are just starting to get tossed around.
Earlier this month, the city council signed off on a three year marketing contract with Divining Point, a Texas-based marketing firm, to put together a formal, long term marketing strategy. City manager Paul Ostrander says the city used to contract out that work to the local Chamber of Commerce.
"We’d never really had a marketing plan as a city, even though we were paying for marketing, there was never really a plan… So we took that RFP (request for proposal) and split it into two pieces; one was specifically for marketing of the city and the second one was strictly for management of the visitors center. It’s the same amount of money we’ve been spending for X amount of years, but instead of it all going to facility management and a marketing contract, we split it into two pieces.”
As a line item in the city’s budget, the number will remain unchanged; $130,000. But this will begin a series of what Ostrander calls baby steps, getting a new marketing strategy off the ground, and it will be centered around public participation.
"Really, what that is is about having a community conversation and figuring out what the community really wants to market. Do we want to market for tourism? There might be a segment of the population that says what we really need to market here is how business friendly the city is, why you would want to locate your business here.”
He says the firm is already working at promoting Kenai’s relatively new, annual silver salmon derby. On the business side, as with so many things in Kenai, you have to think about airport lands. The city has a lot of them. Just recently, the council approved a rewriting of lease agreements for businesses located at the airport. Ostrander says the only real obstacle in using that surplus land is that it has to go for fair market value. No gouging. But the airport itself, currently undergoing a substantial remodel, will likely play a central role in courting new investment, too.
"When we’re done with that project, that rehabilitates the entire airport, it’s going to be a real showcase for the city. Having that regional airport here, from a commerce perspective, there are certain businesses that that’s going to be very attractive for them.”
The three year contract with Divining Point is actually a contract for one year, with a pair of one year extensions included. Ostrander says the first year will simply be nailing down a direction for future marketing efforts, but after that, there should be clear benchmarks for whether or not those efforts are producing results.
He says to be on the lookout in the coming weeks and months for opportunities for public input on those big plans for the future, and we’ll make sure to update you here as well.
THis week’s number: $1.3 trillion, with a T, dollars. That’s about how much is invested in natural gas across the country, and how much could be at stake if opinions about natural gas go the way they have about coal. And a new report from a global network of researchers says could and should. An analysis of projects around the world found them to be wanting in terms of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. That, along with falling prices for renewable sources could put longterm gas projects, perhaps like the AK LNG project, at risk of not happening at all.