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EDC and chamber consider options for promoting Tioga


Posted 11/17/15 (Tue)

By Kevin Killough
The Tioga Economic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce are moving forward with plans to promote the city.
At a combined meeting last week, the chamber and EDC heard presentations from a public relations specialist and a marketing firm representative. 
Dennis Lindahl with Dakota Public Relations presented on the company’s public relation services. 
He said Dakota PR provides “strategic communications services to help clients communicate with key audiences.” 
Last month, the city eliminated the economic developer director position, and the EDC is currently without any primary administrator to oversee its projects. 
Lindahl said the company’s services would help make Tioga competitive with other communities when attracting businesses to town. He said this is an ideal time to begin promotions, as the business environmental of the oil patch will be especially competitive now. 
“I was a survivor of the last bust. It was like they just turned out the lights,” Lindahl said. 
One statistic he said demonstrates Tioga’s potential as an economic leader is Tioga receiving significantly more sales and use tax revenues than Watford City at nearly twice the size.
As a 1099 contractor, Lindahl said, the EDC will be freed from the administration demands of a full time employee, such as health benefits and unemployment. 
The organization could also terminate the contract with notice and a fee, the amount of which would be stipulated in the contract. 
Cost and support
He said public relation services gain better traction and are therefore more cost effective than traditional advertising.
Dakota PR has represented these services to Fortune 500 companies, including Hess and Target Logistics. 
EDC member David Grubb asked Lindahl if he could provide lobbying services to the city, but Lindahl said state law would prevent the city from hiring a lobbyist with public funds. A loophole allows cities to hire attorneys who essentially perform the same function.  
Grubb explained such services have not been utilized in the past and they would help offset costs of economic development by potentially bringing in more state money.
Lindahl quoted the city $48,000 for the first year for the promotional services the company provides. 
“We spent that or more hiring people . . . Maybe we need to look at something like this,” said EDC member Russ Papineau.
An unofficial vote from the board showed wide support for the proposal.
New website
The chamber and EDC also heard a presentation for a marketing strategy proposal from Crash and Sues, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm. 
Heidi Habben, president of Crash and Sues, said Minneapolis is ranking lower and lower on surveys of business-friendly states. As a result, many small businesses may look to relocate to North Dakota, which ranks high on that measure. 
“We see you as a small but mighty city that has been here since the early 1900s and through the beginning of the first oil boom of the 1950s,” Habben said. 
Habben previously provided presentations on the firm’s services at city commission meetings. 
At the EDC meeting, Habben discussed how a website would often be the first place businesses and individuals will look when exploring options for relocation. 
Crash and Sues’s services go beyond website design, Habben explained, and encompass a rounded digital marketing strategy. 
She outlined a variety of packages and services including a full website redesign with monthly updates for about $48,000 plus $54,000 per year.  This would include social media campaigns and website coding.
The company also provides media development services, including professional photography and video production. 
Habben also showed how consistency of design is currently lacking in the city’s website and how that can mitigate its impact. By creating a uniformity of colors and fonts, the city would create a brand identity that would sell the city’s opportunities across digital and print platforms. 
An informal vote of Habben’s proposal showed EDC and chambers members were interested in exploring the services.
No official actions were taken at the meeting.


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