One tricky thing about marketing the heart and soul of your community, is putting it into a short string of words that can fit in a TV commercial, radio spot, website, etc. Yet, as I mentioned last week, one of the attributes that makes Marquette County so attractive is simply itspeople.
While I was sitting around a table with fellow economic developers from around the country, we had begun to discuss this very issue. Many were frustrated because they didn't know how to get their local communities to "care". If the community doesn't "care", how could a positive sense of place emerge and be shared with outsiders?
When it was my turn, I said "we care". With all eyes on me, the facilitator asked me to describe my community, which I chose to do anecdotally versus using the popular marketing buzzwords that had already been overused in the room.
I explained that "My community is more than place, it is people."
It is the excitement that each individual community has for its sports teams. The one that turns into "U.P. Power" when any of them hit the big time downstate (Go Hematites!). It's walking into any Ishpeming sporting event knowing that Mr. Chapman will be sitting there with a smile and hug; or in Negaunee, where Mr. Kent will be the first to Facebook if he had to miss a game. Student athletes like the Bothwell girl's basketball team, who dedicated their season to a classmate with cancer and went on to win every single game.
That kind of comradery is soaked into every fabric of the community, and is evident in the never-failing fundraisers put on to help to neighbors and friends in need or the "Room at the Inn," where our area churches, of all denominations, collaborate to serve the homeless during our cold winter nights. It's the numerous service clubs and organizations that see a need and serve it by giving their time, talent and treasure to make this a great place for all.
It's the story about Mrs. Mering, who met a stranger on an airplane and showed her around town, not realizing she was a journalist doing a story; or a woman in Negaunee, suffering the tragic loss of her daughter through addictive behavior, who wants to find a way to keep other families from the heartache her family has experienced.
When I finished, someone in the group turned to me and said "how do you get them to care?" I simply responded "I don't, they just do."
It may seem that I have somewhat drifted off topic, but I haven't. My point is that when you live in a community like ours, with an incredible sense of place and people, how do you summarize it into a statement or tagline? How do you share with that potential company or prospective employee what it means to be a part of a Livable Community, Distinctive Destination, All America County, Best Place for a million different things ?
My advice to us all is to keep doing what we do best: "care" for our community and its future.
For more information about the Lake Superior Community visit our Web site at www.marquette.org where you can subscribe to our RSS News Feed, link to our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Linked In!
Editor's note: Amy Clickner is CEO?of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her weekly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.