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Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Minster wants to be branded

By Margie Wuebker
MINSTER - After months of discussion, Minster village councilors Tuesday night agreed to join forces with local organizations and hire a Minnesota-based consulting firm to determine how the community should be branded or perceived.
Minster Civic Association representative Ben Ernst said the brand or perception could be used in marketing to attract new businesses as well as residents to the Auglaize County community. The association first proposed the idea and then shared its philosophy with local officials.
City Images of Minneapolis/St. Paul currently works with businesses and communities throughout the country to establish and promote positive perceptions. Although its clientele includes significantly larger communities and businesses, the firm is currently working with a town in Georgia that is roughly the same size as Minster.
Councilors initially balked at the $16,450 fee when the subject was broached last year, questioning how much residents would benefit from the expenditure.
However, the Civic Association has pledged $5,000 to the project in the interim while the Kiwanis and Journeyman's Club will contribute $2,000 each, leaving $7,450 as the village's share.
"I would certainly support this after talking more and hearing the passion behind this plan," said council President Rick Schwartz. "I'm glad three organizations have stepped up to the plate."
Branding is not a specific idea but rather a general direction in which the community wishes to go with input solicited from businesses, residents and village, school and church officials. The firm will use that input to craft a positive brand.
"Too often negative news drives a perception," Ernst said. "We want to get ahead of negative news and capitalize on physical and non-physical traits."
Schwartz cited the case of Littleton, Colo., a community with a negative perception wrought by tragic news. People equate the city with fatal shootings at Columbine High School.
"If you meet a guy on the street corner and he asks about Minster, Ohio, what would you tell him in 45 seconds?" the councilor queried. "A universal brand should capture that perception with the initiative driven by civic groups and not city hall."
Councilors have discussed implementing a streetscape as part of the Hanover Street reconstruction project. Tentative plans propose the area on either side of Fourth Street to feature decorative brickwork, wider sidewalks and distinctive street lights. There has been talk of using stamped asphalt in the crosswalks with the design reflecting various components of life in Minster including its rich German heritage.
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