Potential for county marketing effort is large, but will towns help fund it?

Mecklenburg County is looking into a marketing effort to make the region more attractive to large retail operations.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the board of supervisors’ Economic Development Committee, Angie Kellett, director of economic development for the county, told the committee that Retail Strategy, a company out of Florida, has proposed to do the marketing for the Virginia’s Growth Alliance.
Formed several years ago, the Virginia’s Growth Alliance is a partnership between Mecklenburg, Brunswick, Lunenburg, Amelia, Greensville, Prince Edward, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland and Nottoway counties and the city of Emporia. The group’s mission is to make the region more attractive to retail, manufacturing, tourism and more.
The firm, explained Kellett, reaches out to large, national companies such as Starbucks, Target and more trying to bring them to smaller communities.
According to Kellett, the firm was originally asking for $40,000 per year, per county, for its service. After negotiation, that figure came down to around $20,000 per year.
That figure, she said, could be paid by the localities and the county. For example, Mecklenburg has six towns, and with the county picking up part of the price, the cost would not be too high for anyone.
“I would like to see the county take a piece of that and ask the towns to contribute. The levels can be determined,” she said.
Committee Chairman Dan Tanner said he expected larger towns such as Clarksville could probably afford the full amount, but he was not certain smaller communities could.
“It’s hard to say all the towns have to give an equal share,” said Tanner. “I don’t know what we need to do.”
Tanner did agree that all participants should contribute at some level.
“Everyone needs to have some skin in the game,” said Tanner.
Kellett replied that costs could be held down, and the potential gain for the area is large.
“These folks already work with the big names,” said Kellett. “They will come get the data on our communities and create brochures.” She added that the firm would try to find suitable matches, matches that would work for both the business and the community.
Kellett added that the company would be giving a presentation to detail its proposal and suggested that local mayors, town managers and officials are invited to hear the outline.
“If you’re interested, we’ll move ahead,” said County Administrator Wayne Carter.
“We need to hurry,” said Tanner. “Most everyone is working on their budgets now. I think we’re interested. I think it’s a win-win.”
Kellett assured the group that staff would work to keep the cost as low as possible.