New Marketing Strategy, Advisory Panel Take Shape

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As North Carolina’s Southeast completes the re-shaping of its organizational model and geography, changes also are afoot for a key component of the regional partnership’s mission: its marketing strategy.

 “It’s all about lead generation,” says Russ Rogerson, who serves on the marketing and business development committee of The Southeastern Partnership’s board of directors. The group sought input from county and business stakeholders in sifting through various avenues for regional job creation and business attraction. Their conclusion: regional marketing should focus on finding and developing promising leads for member counties. “This had been the Partnership’s focus before, but now that focus will be intensified,” says Rogerson, who heads up economic development efforts for Cumberland County and the City of Fayetteville.

 The committee, which is being chaired by Southeastern Regional Medical Center CEO Joann Anderson, produced a detailed Strategic Marketing Plan that will guide the Partnership’s work for the coming three years. It sets objectives that apply to every community in the region. Three are easily quantifiable: generating qualified leads from growing businesses, attracting visits to the region by clients and consultants, and making recommendations on available buildings and sites. The plan identifies a list of tools and tactical venues: direct marketing, for example, industry intelligence, technology-transfer programs and regional advocacy.

 A fourth objective is more strategic, calling on the organization to embrace longer-range opportunities such as product development and infrastructure initiatives that have regional significance. Examples include exploring the feasibility of a regional revolving loan fund and establishing an EB-5 Center, a federal designation could enhance the Southeast’s appeal to foreign direct investors.

 Helping guide the plan’s execution will be The Partnership’s Local Developer Advisory Group (“LDAG”), a streamlined version of the Technical Advisory Group that formerly coordinated regional marketing activities. The LDAG will consist of the region’s local economic development professionals, joined periodically by key business allies. “It’s important for the LDAG to have input and perspective from the counties The Partnership represents,” says Rogerson, who also will take part in the LDAG. Execution will rest on the Southeast’s staff. “The LDAG will advise and respond and have input,” Rogerson says, “but at the end of the day, The Southeastern Partnership will lead efforts that represent the diversity within the region.”