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Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Marketing is crucial to courting new industry

By Shelley Grieshop
If you want to catch some fish you have to throw 'em a little bait.
That's the philosophy Mercer County Community Development Director Larry Stelzer uses to lure all types and sizes of businesses to the area.
"You've got to get yourself out there," he says. "You have to stay competitive."
Stelzer touts the county's positive features with advertisements in numerous publications, at trade shows and on Web sites that reach people around the world.
And it works. Nearly every morning the department's e-mail, phone messages and U.S. mail contains inquiries from interested businesses that have seen the ads, Stelzer says.
The agency has available a package of information including brochures and photos of the region to send to inquiring businesses, he adds.
The department spends about $6,000-$7,000 annually for all types of advertising from local sponsorship of the Governor's Cup Regatta to inclusion in an international magazine called "Area Developments."
During a presentation to county commissioners this week, Stelzer showed off the magazines' 2009 directory, which included detailed information about Mercer County. The magazine's Web site has a link to the local agency's Web site, which is www.mercercountyed.com.
Advertising such information as the county's demographics, housing opportunities and schools has helped bring many companies to the area such as Basic Grain in Coldwater, Stelzer says.
"They had read a lot about us" prior to contacting local officials, he says.
The company eventually took over the former Pet Milk plant.
Many industry officials who are seeking to expand their businesses or start new ones use Web sites to "peek" at potential sites without fearing upfront pressure, he adds.
In lieu of the current economic crisis, it's even more crucial to put our best foot forward, Stelzer says. Fortunately, Grand Lake, the great work ethic found here and other positive features make the local area an easy sell, he adds.
"It's not just a great place to have fun but a great place to set up a business," Stelzer says.
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