The Hutchinson City Council wants to attract new residents to the area.
During its meeting last Tuesday, the council approved a $75,500 contract with the Tennessee based marketing firm Chandlerthinks. Funding will come from the city's Community Improvement Fund.
"What this project is about is telling the story of Hutchinson," said city administrator Matt Jaunich. "We feel this is a great opportunity to help recruit young families to the community. Families of all ages and backgrounds."
The workforce shortage in Hutchinson and around the state is well known. The city's effort to market itself to new residents is an attempt to bring in me more qualified workers.
"We want to attract good employees," Council Member Steve Cook said.
"We need more people here," said Hutchinson Economic Development Director Miles Seppelt. "I think, in terms of helping our business community be successful, that's where it's really important for the community. If our business community is successful, all of us are successful."
Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president Mary Hodson echoed those sentiments.
"This is about messaging to our future coworkers, neighbors and homeowners," she said.
But it's not just local businesses that would benefit from more people moving to Hutchinson. More people in town could mean a lighter tax burden for residents.
QUOTE FROM MATT JAUNICH
"Hopefully more homes being built, more kids going to our schools, you recruit a new business or two," Jaunich said. "You're hoping that if they're building homes and building businesses, then that gives us opportunities to spread that tax base out."
The project, which is scheduled to begin in September, will take approximately 6-9 months to complete. According to the project proposal's executive summary, the branding process is broken down into four phases:
- Phase 1 is researching the identity of the city, what it says and what it delivers. As part of the research process, Chandlerthinks will host open forum meetings with residents of Hutchinson. Dates and locations have not been determined yet.
- Phase 2 is formulating a strategy for how to market the city.
- Phase 3 is creating materials geared toward marketing the city's story so it can be told to others. Part of this process is creating a logo. City officials will have the final review on prospective new logos.
- Phase 4 is covering the integration of brand elements within the community itself.
Jaunich also noted that the city's logo is in dire need of updating, as the current logo includes water falls that no longer exist, and the digital version is formatted in a way that is difficult to use. Incorporating the new logo on vehicles and in city materials would be done over time.
The contract was awarded to Chandlerthinks after 19 different companies applied. Council members and Mayor Gary Forcier didn't expect the high turnout.
"(I'm) surprised that there was that many people interested," Forcier said.
A subcommittee with Council Members Cook and Mary Christensen, Jaunich, planning director Dan Jochum and director of information technology Tom Kloss initially narrowed the list down to four applicants. Hodson and Seppelt sat in and took part in the final interviews.
Chandlerthinks has provided its strategic branding services to 59 different counties and cities across 21 different states. Hodson said the company has much to offer the community.
"This process will start with a great deal of research, which Chandlerthinks does very well," she said. "They’ll engage the general public, key stakeholders and focus groups, and dig into perceptions of our city. They’ll evaluate the information they collect and work on a strategy, and then determine how best to express our collective thoughts and feelings into themes, ads and marketing pieces. They’ll create a usage and rollout plan."