The Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board of Directors kicked off their first meeting of the year with new ideas to promote Blue Earth on a large scale.
At the regular meeting held Thursday, January 13 at 7:15 a.m., EDA specialist Amy Schaefer presented several innovative promotional ideas for the board’s consideration.
“We haven’t really defined what we’re going to do with marketing this year,” Schaefer started. “I would like to spend our money a little differently this year.”
Schaefer’s first idea involved the medium of television.
“I’ve seen several small communities doing ads,” she explained. Shaefer noted that she had already received interest from Shellie Poetter, director of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce, and the Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board.
“The cost of the video should not be too high if we work with two other entities”, reasoned Schäfer.
Schaefer discussed the concept with Flying Buttress Media, who gave him a quote estimate for a 30-second commercial.
“Very generally speaking, a video like the description above can cost anywhere from $1,900 to $3,500+, depending on different content factors,” Flying Buttress explained in a letter to Schaefer.
Schaefer sought approval from the EDA to continue exploring the concept of a video.
“I think 100% that we should explore the options,”said EDA board member Jamie Jones.
“I think it’s a great idea,”EDA board member Bill Rosenau agreed, adding that he was curious how the ad would be distributed for viewing.
“I will bring information next month and we can go from there”,Schäfer replied
Schaefer also introduced the possibility of an advertising service offered by BEVCOMM.
Schaefer offered the possibility of Geofencing, a program that draws a virtual fence around a certain area to create targeted advertising opportunities within the area.
When people travel through the zone, they receive targeted notifications announcing attractions in the zone.
“BEVCOMM is doing a two to three week test campaign to determine the overall cost of a Geofencing campaign,”Schaefer explained. “There are a lot of variables with a cost, but the test is free.”
“I think we should do the test campaign and see if it’s worth our money and time to do it (Geofencing),”concluded Schäfer.
“I’d say take the test, if it’s free,”EDA board chairwoman Lissia Laehn suggested. “So we can go from there.”
A third and final marketing idea suggested by Schaefer was Connect Magazine, a print publication that has a large following throughout southern Minnesota.
“I think it would be useful to put something in there”,Schaefer noted. “He has a big reach.”
She concluded, “I think our marketing dollars need to be spent outside of Blue Earth.”
Schaefer referenced a presentation she and local VISTA representative Hanna Haggarty recently presented at the EDA.
The presentation highlighted Minnesota’s projected labor shortages and the vitality of small towns, such as Blue Earth, attracting additional residents.
“We need to be aware of catching people who are moving or looking for a place to expand their business,”Schaefer added, suggesting his marketing research efforts as a possible solution to the problem.
The EDA board encouraged Schaefer to pursue the marketing strategies she had suggested.
“We have a good marketing budget, and it’s a good use of some of that budget,”said city administrator Mary Kennedy. “Let’s put money into something with a broad reach.”
In other cases, the EDA Blue Earth:
• Awarded January’s Business Spotlight of the Month award to Mexican restaurant El Tio.
• Approved a regular annual donation of $500 to the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).
• Approval of a forgivable loan application for a training program in the amount of $198.84 from Resia Hayward, an employee of St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Centre.
Hayward, who currently works as a certified nursing assistant at the care center, wants to receive additional training as a medication administrator.
• Granted a forgivable loan to Blue Earth’s Cabin Coffee Company/Brighter Days Cafe, LLC in the amount of $25,000.
Ownership of the business is in the process of being transferred to Jasmin Sahr, the current COO of Cabin Coffee. Sahr intends to use the loan to complete unfinished projects at Cabin Coffee and purchase equipment.
• Approved the 2022 EDA work plan drafted by Schaefer. Schaefer noted that 2022 goals will include new marketing initiatives, rehabilitating agricultural center space and recruiting residents.
Schaefer also noted that she has completed the paperwork to start the application process for a new VISTA representative, as Haggarty’s one-year term at Blue Earth ends next week.
• Approved the revised draft of the EDA Training Funding Program forgivable loan.
The final version of the program will offer up to $500 per individual applicant and up to $1,500 per business applicant.
The EDA has determined that individuals and businesses will be eligible to apply each year. Schaefer also implemented a $5,000 annual cap on the program.
• Heard positive feedback about the new Blue Earth Workforce Group, which meets bi-monthly at the Agricultural Center on Tuesdays, 12-1pm. Their next meeting will be on January 18.