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EDC agrees to contract with ad agency

Ted Clem, president of the Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission, says the $150,000-plus contract that the EDC agreed to Wednesday with Lattimore Communications of Atlanta was on of the commission's biggest contracts, but that giving Albany and Dougherty County a business-friendly brand also was one of the biggest challenges the organization has faced. (July 17, 2013)

Ted Clem, president of the Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission, says the $150,000-plus contract that the EDC agreed to Wednesday with Lattimore Communications of Atlanta was on of the commission's biggest contracts, but that giving Albany and Dougherty County a business-friendly brand also was one of the biggest challenges the organization has faced. (July 17, 2013)

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission board decided to take a bold new approach in its efforts to brand the community, agreeing at its monthly meeting Wednesday to a $150,150 contract proposal with an Atlanta-based communications firm.

"We're a community that does not know how to sell itself," EDC President Ted Clem said. "This is one of the biggest investments the EDC has ever made, but this is one of the biggest challenges we've ever taken on."

The EDC board voted to finance the yearlong contract with Lattimer Communications of Atlanta through some $200,000 in reserve funds it previously earmarked as part of an aggressive campaign to utilize the so-called basics of economic development in the community: recruitment, retention and renewal.

"This is different from traditional economic development, but it's right on," EDC Board Chairman Jay Smith said. "This is good stuff."

Miles Espy, an EDC board member who serves as chairman of the organization's community-based Renewal Committee, said signing a contract with Lattimer is a no-brainer for the commission.

"We were helped in the process by the (New York-based) J. Walter Thompson firm, which has worked pro bono with us because of their interest in the Marine Corps, which is one of their major clients," Espy said. "JWT recommended we work with Lattimer, and once members of our committee looked over the proposal submitted by the company, well, it was a no-brainer.

"Even with the Lattimer contract in place, JWT will continue to work with us to help us bring about positive change from within our community."

EDC board member Milan Patel noted, "Our people will grow to believe in themselves from within and then spread the word outward."

Lattimer Communications is a full-service advertising agency that has specialized in crafting innovative local, regional and national marketing programs for the past 15-plus years. The company is one of the few 100 percent minority- and female-owned advertising agencies in the South with national and regional brand experience. The company has designed campaigns for such entities as the city of Atlanta, DeKalb Medical in Lithonia and Georgia Power.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, Chris Hatcher, the EDC board's Recruitment Committee chairman, said the committee had begun a preliminary examination of available industrial land in the community compared to other Georgia cities. Hatcher said Albany/Dougherty County has 431 acres of land available, primarily at two industrial parks.

Hatcher also said preliminary discussions had begun with ROI, the Montreal-based company hired to line up business prospects for the region.

"They'll take a month or two to vet the first 100 grouping of prospects before sending them to us," Clem said. "While we look them over, they'll develop another group of 100. They want us to agree with a final list, which will be around 500.

"The trickle down of actionable leads that will result will come a little later in the process."