The course, Tennessee Marketing and Attraction, was held by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services under the auspices of the Institute for Public Service. Jablonski said he will attend future courses which will help him understand how best to point out to the rest of the world what East Ridge has to offer businesses considering expanding into our region.
“The gist of the course was how to be more effective in promoting your community,” Jablonski said on Monday afternoon. “You need to know who you are talking to and then target your message.”
Jablonski said that the city needs to do a better job of communicating to the world at large that we are developing. He said we are focusing on retail recruitment and we need to put our best foot forward in that effort. The city needs to devise a “narrative” to tell businesses what we are all about.
“We’re coming out of a 20 to 30-year period where we’ve been in a slump,”Jablonski said, “and we are coming out swinging.”
Jablonski said one of the best ways to communicate our “narrative” is by using the city’s Website. He said the city is currently working to re-design the Website to not only help citizens and staff who use it regularly, but to provide an attractive platform to get the word out to business that East Ridge is a viable place to hang a shingle.
The first thing businesses do when considering moving into an area is to look at demographics, Jablonski said. “The second thing they do is check you out on the Web,” he said. “If we are not telling our story we’re not doing a good job of marketing East Ridge.”
In recent months, the city hired a consulting firm out of Birmingham, Ala. called Retail Strategies. Jablonski said the firm will play an integral role in helping East Ridge attract business. Using the metaphor of fishing, Jablonski said Retail Strategies will attract businesses to the city and it’s up to city officials “to hook ’em.”
“This program (Marketing and Attraction) will help us get there,” he said.
Jablonski said he found out about the Marketing and Attraction course through a colleague, Seth Sumner, an assistant city manager he met through the Tennessee City Managers Association. He said classes are held monthly in different areas of the state to make it more convenient to attend. Jablonski said he will continue to take the classes in an effort to become a Certified Economic Developer. At the conclusion of the classes participants are required to write a “Capstone,” something akin to a mini-dissertation.
Jablonski said about 40 people attended the class in Jackson. He said about 25 percent of those folks were employed by a city or a Chamber of Commerce.
Jablonski said he will now discuss with Council how to proceed by developing a consensus on the city’s “narrative” and a “brand.”
“One reoccurring theme I learned, If you don’t have an effective brand you are not getting it done,” he said. “If you don’t have an effective Website you are not getting it done.”