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Farmington will hire a firm to build marketing campaign

Sometimes you have to invest money to make money.

And with that philosophy in mind Monday, the Farmington City Council authorized spending $30,000 to hire a professional marketing company to draw up a marketing plan for the city.

Council members acted on a recommendation from the Farmington Economic Development Authority. The goal is simple -- to strengthen the city's commercial and industrial base.

"We want something that will attract new businesses and maintain existing businesses. We don't have to create an image. We have to expand upon what we already have in Farmington," city planner Lee Smick said.

The city already has a logo and a mission statement. It has held several focus groups in the past decade, the most recent of which was in 2010. The EDA has drawn up goals, a Business Attraction Team just wrapped up meetings and has given a report.

All that's left now, Smick said, is for someone to draw up something that takes all that past work and puts it into a marketing campaign to promote the city of Farmington.

"For the first time in my 16 years with the city, we're hiring a professional to come in," Smick said. "This is our time. This is where we say to the community, we're going to invest in economic development. The city is focusing on economic development more than they ever have before."

Mayor Todd Larson -- who also sits as a council representative on the EDA -- backs the idea completely. At the beginning of the year, Larson said one of his goals for his second term was to increase the commercial and industrial base in the community. Hiring a marketing firm, he said, will help to do that.

"Things are starting to happen around the Twin Cities as far as commercial development goes. We need to reach out to the people who are building and let them know Farmington is here and ready to build," Larson said. "We need to market (the city). We need to start going to conventions and trade shows. We have to be there with Farmington literature, video, whatever we have, to show off the city."

When a marketing company is hired, Smick plans to ask the company to focus on a few specific pieces of property as part of the plan. Properties such as the Vermillion River Crossings area on Denmark Avenue and Co. Rd. 50, the Farmington Business Park area on Highway 3, and downtown's Exchange Bank Building -- which has been for sale for most of the past year -- will be included.

Funding to hire the marketing company will come through a Community Development Block Grant, Smick said. Federal guidelines apply to CDBG funds, and hiring a marketing company to draw up a campaign is an acceptable expenditure. However, the funds cannot be used to create advertising pieces like newsletters, videos or brochures.

A request for proposals was issued Tuesday, with a goal of selecting a firm by July 24. The target date to begin the marketing campaign development is Aug. 7.

"We have to make sure we get what we're asking for, and we'll see that in the RFP's. If we don't get what we want from a group, we won't go with them. I'm assuming we'll get what we're looking for," Larson said. "Let's not reinvent the wheel here. We have what we need. Now we need to move ahead."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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