Discovering Differentiators: Why Positioning Matters
Economic developers might glance over a regional branding campaign in favor of larger priorities, such as building good sites or robust incentive packages. But a region’s visual identity is more than pretty pictures and colors – it has large implications for economic development.
To put it all into perspective, here’s a summary of findings from Oxford Economics and other resources.
Site selection and talent attraction is all about people.
Multiple sources emphasize that every tourist who visits has the potential to be a future resident and a valuable addition to our talent pool. Seventy-six percent of job seekers surveyed used first-hand experience to inform their impressions of a community. MSAs that attract greater numbers of leisure visitors also attract a greater share of college educated residents.
Similarly, business travel is the third most influential factor influencing an executive’s perception of an area’s business climate, while personal travel is eighth. It goes without saying that a good experience, whether for work or play, can impact a site selector’s decision in a region’s favor.
Tourism brings capital – and investment.
Tourism encourages investment in infrastructure. Airlines are attracted to set up hubs where passenger demand is high, but that in turn becomes a marketable asset in terms of the region’s supply chain and logistic capabilities. The same thing can be said of roads, trains and public transportation, where visitor spending can fuel bigger projects than would normally be sustainable by the local economy.
Ripple effect on the economy.
Tourist spending also improves local amenities from which residents can also benefit. The hospitality and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country – building an attractive message is one way to claim some of that growth for a region. And it’s not just isolated to one sector – destinations with a higher concentration of visitor-related activities and employment have historically experienced faster growth overall.
How do we want the Cincinnati region represented to the world?
At the core of an effective regional branding campaign is knowing your region’s DNA and putting a stake in the ground. We all know Austin’s weird, Boston’s strong, and Michigan is pure. Greater Cincinnati’s reputation amongst visitors is a question mark, but this blank canvas is a big opportunity for the region to carve out its piece of the American pie.
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