Marketing machine

By: By Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal
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ELIZABETHTOWN — The town of Elizabethtown is hoping to spread the word about what it’s doing.

At Tuesday’s budget planning retreat, the Elizabethtown Town Council heard from town staff about their efforts to better communicate the attractions, happenings, and message of one of the state’s oldest municipalities.

“We started thinking, what do we want to tell people? What makes us stand out from other towns?” questioned Elizabethtown Planning Technician Billie Hall. “We’re more than just (a local restaurant).”

To highlight the town, staff have developed a promotional video that contains clips of the parks, shopping, dining options, the airport, and events that make Elizabethtown unique.

“All the things we’ve done together, we’ve rolled right into a one-minute-and-28-second video,” Town Manager Eddie Madden commented. “I’m very proud of this. I think it will really tell our story not only in the community but outside it as well. I believe it will translate into stronger community growth and better quality of life.”

The video promotes Elizabethtown with the motto, “Small town, big opportunities.” During the showing of the video, one Council member was moved to tears, stating after it was over the pride it invoked in what Elizabethtown is doing.

In addition to the video, staff have been working on putting together a newsletter for town residents.

“One asset that we’ve never really played up is the (Cape Fear) Bridge,” Hall explained. “Our bridge is our connector.”

The Bridge will be a biannual newsletter distributed to utilities or tax customers and containing information from town department heads or notices from the Board. Employee spotlights, tips for customers, upcoming events are just a few of the items that will be addressed in the publication. Rather than mailing out paper copies, staff will include links on the town’s web site and distribute digital copies by text or email. A limited number of paper copies will also be available at Town Hall or in select businesses.

“We’re really excited about this,” Hall remarked.

An additional tool to disseminate information will be the CodeRed system, a new tool Elizabethtown Police Chief Tony Parrish described to the Board. The app will allow staff to alert residents of emergencies like boil water advisories or safety concerns, as well as remind customers of upcoming water bills or special events.

While the CodeRed app serves a specific purpose, staff are also looking into developing their own app for Elizabethtown. Hall showed the Council a preliminary example that could include things like the promotional video of the town, a calendar of local events, or even advertisements from area businesses.

“We have five major events with thousands of people coming,” Madden explained. “When the folks from NC Cycle roll in this October, we want them to visit our restaurants.”

He added that NC Cycle has been known to impact a local economy to the tune of $300,000 in the few hours it spends in town.

“(The town) was able to do that because they got information out to people about what they offered.”

“This is great,” offered Councilman Howell Clark. “The message we’ve received is consistent — if you’re not doing it on a cell phone, you’re not doing it. Good work on this.”

The main photo for the app will be the new Elizabethtown icon developed by Hall. Utilizing the beginning “E” and the ending “N” as the anchoring trusses on a bridge, the graphic also includes images relating to skateboarding, airplanes, fishing, cycling, and disc golf. Hall hopes to utilize the image on T-shirts to be sold at local events, as well as on items like coozies and bumper stickers.

“I love it, Billie,” commented Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell. “You’ve done a great job.”

“We really had a good time working on this,” summed up Hall. “This is an exciting time for our community and even more exciting for us as builders of this community.”

All of the promotional materials were developed by a committee comprised of Hall, Fire Chief Nick West, Police Chief Tony Parrish and Public Works’ Michael Munford.

In other business at the retreat, Board members:

— Heard from Asst. Town Manager Pat DeVane about rehabilitation of current wells and a need on the horizon for a new well.

— Received updates on various ongoing projects, including an extension of the airport runway and the renovation of the Rescue Squad building, as well as a project at Leinwand Park.

— Heard from West about the SAFER grant that will expire this year and which pays for five current positions at the fire department.

— Discussed ways of raising revenue without raising taxes, including instituting an occupancy tax, raising fire district taxes, annexing customers who are already on town water and sewer, increasing fire inspection rates, and increasing water and sewer rates.

— Heard from Parrish about a grant available to purchase body cameras for the police force.

— Heard a timeline for the second phase of the revitalization/utility burial project. Pricing is expected to be completed in early April, followed by a May approval of the contract. The project will be completed by June, 2019.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

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Elizabethtown creating toolsto boost the local tourism

By Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal