HOTEDD Board of Directors, April 2011

HOTEDD Board of Directors, April 2011

What is the Heart of Texas Economic Development District?

HOTEDD delivers information, collaboration, coordination, and training among economic developers, communities, businesses, and individuals in our service area: Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone, and McLennan Counties. The Honorable Justin Lewis chairs our Board; our President is Russell Devorsky.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Moody Communtiy Plan Almost Complete!

After five public meetings, great discussion and engagement, and tasty food prepared by the Long-Range Planning Committee, the City of Moody is close to achieving a community plan. Only two more steps remain: the fine-tuning of responsibilities and the review of final language for the document. Kudos to the brave community folks who took on this project in an effort to be forward-thinking and forward-moving!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sustainable Communities Update

With the success of the Heart of Texas' Sustainable Communities grant application comes a host of planned activities, partnerships, and initiatives. Watch this space for news of what's to come! Expected kickoff timeframe is June 2012.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sustainable Communities Application completed

Last week HOTCOG, in partnership with HOTEDD, Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, and Limestone Counties, and a host of other regional partners, collaborated on and submitted an application for a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant.

The significance of this project is that, if successful, it would fund the creation of technical studies, field work, and ultimately recommendations to achieve greater sustainability for the region - meaning, greater prosperity, efficiency, resource management, and economic vitality. Some of the key components of the plan - particularly entrepreneurship development, infrastructure management tools, and a plan to deepen community engagement - will remain at the top of the list of priorities to accomplish, regardless of the success of this particular application for funds. New prosperity will require new thinking, and HOTEDD will continue building partnerships and resources to get the best information for the region.

Word regarding the success of the Sustainable Communities application may come as soon as January, but we won't wait - work to develop alternative ways to accomplish the goals will begin in November.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Farewell, Ken Simons!

Many, many thanks to Ken Simons for eight years of leadership. Ken's tenure with HOTEDD has seen the organization grow from a few people and some paper (bylaws, articles of incorporation) into an entity with significant assets, cash flow, program of work, and staff support - and plans for even bigger things yet to come. Much of this growth was accomplished as the result of Ken's financial savvy, strong relationships, and a deal he put together with, as they say, No Money Down!

Thank you, Ken, for your years of service. You will be missed.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Regional Branding: Advice from Ed Burghard

Yesterday we quoted Ed Burghard, of The Burghard Group, regarding the difference between marketing and branding.

Here is an additional piece: his advice to communities. The following is quoted from his site, with the link to the full article below.

When you are asked to brand (or re-brand) your location, take the time to clarify what the real expectation is. Often, the community leadership is simply asking for either a new advertising campaign or a marketing plan. Get aligned on what is really required and what resources are available.

When talking with an Advertising Agency who is promising to create a new brand for your location, clarify what they will actually deliver. Typically it will not be a strategic plan that includes guidance on your community’s core promise and recommendations on asset creation, infrastructure investment and public policy reform. If it turns out the Agency is simply promising a new logo and tagline, walk away. It is a signal that they know very little about branding and you are about to waste your money.

Another challenge that seems to come up in discussions I have with economic development professionals is that no amount of branding will make your location more competitive for capital investment if it lacks required assets.

The fundamental wording of the challenge is convoluted.

No amount of advertising will make a bad product (or location) good. That is absolutely correct. As one community leader once said to me “You can’t put lipstick on a pig and hope to win a beauty contest”. And, he was absolutely right.

If your location is inherently non-competitive, job #1 is to invest in getting it competitive. My advice would be to not invest in advertising or marketing until you have a plausible chance for success.

I would argue this is when branding is mandatory. You need a blueprint on how to make your location competitive. You need alignment on what the core differentiating promise is and the identity you want to create. Then you need to make informed choices on creating the right assets, investing in the right infrastructure and enacting the right public policy reforms to make your location promise authentic.

The problem most locations have is that branding takes time, money and emotional commitment. Branding is about building prosperity that will stand the test of time. Branding requires genuine statesmanship and stewardship. Both of which are often in short supply.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Regional Branding: Resource for Ideas on Place Branding

Ed Burghard, of The Burghard Group, recently asked for comments from economic development professionals regarding the difference between marketing and branding.

Here are Ed's definitions, followed by a link to his site.

According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” (Approved October 2007)

Marketing focuses primarily on communicating (or correcting) and ensuring consistent delivery of your product or service image. The emphasis is on making certain the promise you make is understood and authentic. That promise must be relevant and competitive in order to be compelling.

Advertising is one tool used in marketing. So are social media and promotional efforts to support capital investment lead management. Any interaction or communication about your location can be considered part of the marketing mix and will benefit from being in alignment with the core promise.

My working definition for branding is the proactive management of your product or service identity.

The single biggest differences between branding and marketing are –

1.Marketing focuses on communicating or correcting the product or service image (present) while branding focuses on creating the identity (future).
2.Because it is identity focused, branding includes a strong emphasis on strategic product development.
A way to think about it is branding ensures your core promise remains relevant, competitive and authentic year after year. Good branding plans will have a 5 – 10 year planning horizon and a process for ensuring the plans are responsive to changes in the competitive environment.

In economic development, branding guides choices on asset creation, infrastructure investment and public policy reform.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Regional Brand for the Heart of Texas

Who are we?
Sounds like a silly question - navel-gazing, perhaps, and not much to do with the nuts and bolts of delivering economic development. It matters, though, because the six counties that make up the Heart of Texas don't have much that binds them together beyond the fact that someone at a desk somewhere arbitrarily put them together when the state was carving out regions for Councils of Governments.
In economic development, we know that we're selling communities. Lots of our work is done for us already in selling communities - for better or for worse - because each community already has a brand. Whether you're a member of that community, or the other town they play in football, or someone who just drives through, you have an idea of what that community is.
With our six-county region, there is not the same sense of identity. That's good in some ways - it means we have a relatively clean slate. We don't have to battle existing notions that may be different than we'd like. But selling a clean slate won't work in economic development, any more than it would work in a grocery store. Would you buy a box with no label, no ingredients?
Right now, the EDD is working on regional branding, as a first step to marketing the region. We're gathering information on the communities, what people think and feel about this area, and what images and taglines are out there. We're reviewing best practices from around the state and around the nation, to get a sense of what excellence looks like. The results of this work will be presented to the Marketing Committee on Thursday, and then the group will move forward toward development of images and language to communicate the brand to the world.
We'd love your input - and we'll keep you posted on what we discover!