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New EDC logos, slogans send positive messages
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Jennifer Doss (left), director of tourism, and Lisa Lyle, director of recruiting and marketing, both with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., show their organizations’ new logos. (Bulletin photo by Mickey Powell)

Monday, August 11, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Henry County-Martinsville is an affordable place for companies to operate, with workers who can help their employers succeed long term and innovative workforce training programs that respond to companies’ needs, local economic developers want the world to know.

Those factors mean greater long-term profit potential for businesses, which is what the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) will emphasize to companies it strives to attract to the community, according to President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Heath.

The platform stems from a rebranding effort that resulted in a new slogan, “Growing Your Business is Our Business,” as well as a new logo for the EDC’s business and industry recruiting division.

The EDC’s tourism division also received a new logo and slogan — “Fun in Record Time.”

But rebranding involves more than creating catchy phrases and attractive designs, Heath said. It mainly involves ensuring that distinctions which could attract people and businesses to the area are promoted to those elsewhere, he emphasized.

The community is affordable to businesses because it has low labor, land and utility costs and “reasonable taxes,” Heath said.

Note that he did not specifically say low taxes. Although local tax rates are lower than those in many places and could attract new residents, marketing that to businesses could make recruiting efforts backfire, he said.

It could give companies the idea that the community does not have enough financial resources to provide company executives and their employees with good schools and amenities for a good quality of life, Heath said.

Strong workforce training programs exist locally because they were created when economic developers, educators and industry representatives were “in the room at the same time” discussing what companies need and ideas for fulfilling those needs, Heath said.

“When they have an idea,” he said, “people here are focused on how to make it work, not on why it won’t,” as he has seen in communities elsewhere.

Workers with skills that companies need entice firms to locate in the area and help ones already here replace ones who retire, according to Heath. He said that some companies have reported they will need to replace up to half of their employees in the next 5-7 years due to anticipated retirements.

When the local workforce meets their needs, companies do not leave an area, he indicated.

The new slogan of “Growing Your Business is Our Business” was recommended by the Anstey Hodge Advertising Group of Roanoke, which worked with the EDC on the rebranding effort. Heath said board members immediately liked it.

The term “growing” reflects the notion of businesses elsewhere growing to include facilities in Henry County or Martinsville, as well as helping companies already in the community grow here by expanding their facilities and payrolls.

Expanded facilities means more tax money going into county-city coffers to support services that residents use, and expanded payrolls mean people have jobs to support themselves and their families, officials have said.

Ultimately, the purpose of companies growing is to achieve more profit, Heath pointed out.

“Profit is not a dirty word to us” at the EDC, he said. “If they don’t make money (here), they’re not going to stay.”

The new EDC logo features the new slogan under the localities’ names. The “ill” in Martinsville — which is orange as opposed to the other gray letters — represents an “ascending bar chart” that “conveys progressive thinking and positive business growth,” a document provided by the organization shows.

Orange is a color that “conveys energy and positive transformation,” the document states.

The EDC tourism division’s new logo is similar to the other one, but it has a drawing depicting several local recreational and cultural opportunities — the Smith River (represented by a person in a kayak on water), NASCAR (depicted by a checkered flag) and music performances (depicted by a musical note).

“We wanted something fun and vibrant” that would entice visitors to come and experience local leisure amenities, said Tourism Director Jennifer Doss.

“Fun in Record Time” gives a nod to Martinsville Speedway, the area’s most popular tourist attraction. Think time trials before a race.

Together, the slogan and the logo are intended to emphasize that visitors will quickly find fun things to do locally, according to Doss.

Tourism generates roughly $64 million a year for the local economy and supports 728 jobs at places such as motels and restaurants, she said.

More and more people are realizing there are leisure attractions in the area other than the speedway, officials said. Examples include the Smith River, Philpott Lake and the Smith River Sports Complex.

Now, “we have hotels that are full on non-race weekends,” Heath said.

That is helping people realize that recruiting tourists — not just businesses and industries — is a crucial part of economic development, officials said.

Over time, people will come to better understand what the EDC does, said Recruiting and Marketing Director Lisa Lyle.

As part of the rebranding effort, the EDC and Anstey Hodge surveyed local businesses, prospective businesses, firms that considered locating here but did not come and site consultants, among others, to find out their opinions about the community and the organization, officials said.


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