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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Owensboro Kentucky Economic Development Corp Uses Blogger, YouTube, Facebook

To promote your town nowadays, you've got to have a website. Entrepreneurs thinking of coming to town will Google you, and if they can't find good info online, they're going to think your local economy is as 1990 as your Web presence.

The Chamber of Commerce of Owensboro, Kentucky, has a pretty snappy website. They have a subdomain for the local economic development corporation. But they also figured out something every blogger knows: there are splendid free tools out there that let you create quick updates with minimal tech knowledge. Check out their economic development blog, which uses Blogger, the same online software that brings you the Madville Times every day. They have lots of links, but alas, they've disabled comments. Don't people know interaction is good for marketing?

Ah, but you can get some interaction at the Owensboro EDC's YouTube channel! Comments are open, so you can tell them what a great idea their downtown revitalization project is. It's all part of the Downtown Owensboro Placemaking Initiative, something Madison could use. Hmm... making their Veterans Boulevard downtown area more "urban, walkable, and mixed use," creating a market square to permanantly house the farmers' market, creating more green space, bringing a hotel and events center to downtown instead of the city periphery... where have we heard ideas like that before*?

And I can't begrudge the Owensboro EDC a commentless blog when that blog links to three Owensboro Facebook pages: the Owensboro EDC Group, the Downtown Owensboro Group, and the Society of Owensboro Alumni Group. Yes, an alumni group, so folks who've moved away can keep in touch with what's going on in in their hometown. Talk about a great marketing tool: all those alumni can network, and the city gets a nice online rolodex for fundraising for cool projects. That's how you put the Web to work to promote your town.

*Yes, when Dwaine Chapel retires, I will apply for his job.


  1. I'm not convinced a snappy web site is essential because the main selling point is the town, the numbers, and the contact people, but it might be the first thing prospective employers see. Consider that Owensboro has a much larger population and likely resources than Lake County. They have a focused mission statement: Our director seems forced to wear many hats which makes me think that's a reason for the LAIC's limited success, but I'm just guessing.

  2. Only slightly related: Russell Olson writes in the Chamber newsletter we should shop locally whenever possible. I don't agree because I think we should think of ourselves as a regional player, but is it true our economic development director lives in Brookings? If so, to follow his logic Russell would encourage him to shop in his home town of Brooking (kind of odd, no?). I think we should accept people are going to do business (and bank) where it makes sense for them. We need to be competitive: period. If Dwaine still lives in Brookings it shouldn't matter because we need to be a part of this larger thing going on around us.

  3. "essential"? Well, John, I'm a DSU guy, so I have to believe a good website is necessary for anything, right? :-)

    I agree: if your town doesn't have a strong, vibrant, progressive culture, slapping a bunch of inauthentic marketing on top of it, in any form Web or otherwise, won't solve your problems. But if marketing is an essential component of a comprehensive economic development strategy (and the LAIC certainly thinks it is), then a good website relying on free online tools like Blogger, YouTube, and Facebook will give you a better return on investment than expensive signs and banners. Signs and banners can only be in one place at a time; a good economic development blog can be everywhere, and it can engage citizens and potential biz/residential recruits in positive ways that even the best print or TV ad cannot.

    Buy local: Hmm... where does Dwaine buy his groceries?

  4. ...and he does he buy his cars from Prostrollo or Einspahr?

  5. Snappy websites may be useful for attracting very small businesses. Most large companies are lured strictly by financial incentives.

    The crowd that wants to save small towns needs to recognize that large cities view businesses as a way of attracting more tax paying citizens, not as a source of direct tax revenue itself. Most large companies can afford to game the tax system itself to minimize any tax liability in the end.

    The question should not be how much money can the city get from the business. It needs to be how much money can we give to the business to start up that will be recouped in tax dollars.

  6. "attracting small businesses": I'm all for that! Tell me if this fits with what Tony's saying: can we say a good city/ed.dev. website will do more to facilitate a small-business owner's do-it-yourself, ad hoc Google-based R&D? It won't make a difference to the big operators, since they can hire people to research the town... and as Tony says, all they want is the easiest tax system to game (which doesn't make them appealing corporate citizens in my book).

  7. I don't know how the contacts get made, but if we consider Brookings a success (not calling them a model), they don't seem dependent on a sophisticated web site. It's simple and readable. http://www.brookingssd.us/

  8. [Sorry, JusBskt: no name pops up with the profile, just a registration page. Please submit your name where all can see it.]


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