About 15 local citizens representing different communities and sectors of Delta County attended a workshop last week aimed at developing a local business brand. The discussion was spurred by a Blueprint 2.0 initiative -- one of three awarded to Delta County through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).
In announcing recipients last summer, Lt. Governor Donna Lynne promised state resources to help rural communities like Delta strengthen their economies.
For the initiative titled "Strengthen Local Business Brand," resources included Steve Duncan of Development Counsellors International and Liz Cahill, OEDIT's chief marketing officer. The duo facilitated the workshop at Bill Heddles Recreation Center last Tuesday.
"The idea of a unified business brand for the county has been discussed over many years," explained Trish Thibido, executive director of Delta County Economic Development. "A countywide collaboration to market, promote and distinguish the county is seen as a necessary step for future economic development."
"This whole exercise is to get everyone locally thinking along the same lines," Duncan said at the workshop. "You all come from different backgrounds, but everyone wants Delta County to move forward."
To the participants, "moving forward" would be characterized by slow, steady population growth; retention of citizens 30-50 years of age; support of the middle class; and a sense of Delta's identity for outsiders.
Duncan talked about developing key messages to be shared on websites and with speakers who can carry the message "abroad." It's also important to establish a visual connection to Delta County through photographs, he said.
Delta County wants to stand out, but Montrose or Grand Junction should not be viewed as competitors, he said. "Where there are commonalities, band together and pool resources," he recommended.
The next step is to form a Blueprint 2.0 Task Force that can take the information and direction provided by the group throughout the day. Duncan will help and Cahill promised ongoing support from OEDIT as the task force brainstorms, reviews and refines the "brand promise." The goal is to have a draft of a marketing plan in place by next spring.
While the primary focus of the workshop was to begin to create a compelling, unique business brand for Delta County, Kelli Hepler and members of the Delta County Tourism Cabinet hope to blend the branding effort with a second Blueprint 2.0 initiative aimed at shining the light on Delta County's tourism assets. Hepler said the tourism cabinet will begin discussions at an upcoming retreat.
The third Blueprint 2.0 initiative, Adaptive Reuse Workshop, is to explore how best to repurpose the Delta-Montrose Technical College building in Paonia.
Thanks to the efforts of state Rep. Millie Hamner, House District 61, Colorado State University plans to re-open the Rogers Mesa research site.
The facility was taken out of operation in 2011, due to budget cuts throughout the CSU system.