Rockford could hire RACVB to run marketing campaign in town

ROCKFORD – Mayor Tom McNamara’s administration proposes to spend $ 300,000 to promote Rockford as an affordable and convenient place to live and end declining demographic trends.

Under the proposal, Rockford would contract with the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau to oversee a marketing campaign designed to present Rockford as a desirable place for visitors, workers and families to live, work and relocate.

“I think there are a lot of good things going on in our community, and we need to get that message out,” McNamara said.

Tom mcnamara

Funding for the project would come from the cash balance of the city’s tourism fund, generated by a 5% tax on hotel stays. In addition, the Visitors Bureau would raise matching funds from private sector donations of at least $ 200,000.

Rockford City Council may consider the measure next week.

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As technology has advanced and the pandemic has kept people in their homes, where people live is no longer necessarily tied to where they work, said John Groh, President and CEO from the Visitors Bureau.

The campaign could be an opportunity to attract remote workers and others to live in Rockford, Groh said.

John Groh

This would come at a time when Illinois and Rockford have experienced population loss over the past decade. Rockford has lost more than 7,200 residents since 2010, according to the US Census Bureau. And Groh said that there is not a single agency that has taken the responsibility of retaining and increasing the population.

Although the Tourist Board is already working to attract visitors and tourists, this marketing campaign is seen as a way to recruit talent and attract new residents. It would build in part on similar campaigns in other parts of the country that have been found to be successful.

Groh said the campaign will focus on Rockford’s affordability, location, entertainment and recreation offerings, and its best areas of employment, including aerospace, education, engineering, healthcare , manufacturing and finance.

Groh said he is considering a campaign that creates a unique new website as an online resource that promotes Rockford as an affordable place to live, work and play.

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A public relations firm would be retained to present articles on Rockford to outside media markets. And there would be purchased advertising touting Rockford’s affordability, amenities, and high quality of life.

Rockford has success stories to share like his Rockford Promise program, robust aerospace industry, attractions, world-class restaurants and a reborn city center it was considered sleepy not many years ago, Groh said.

“We want to tell our story more aggressively to people who want to live and invest in the area,” Groh said. “And so that’s a step towards that.”

Jeff Kolkey: [email protected]; @jeffkolkey

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