The Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission approved its 2014-15 budget Wednesday at the organization’s June meeting. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — As the Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission’s City of Albany re-branding campaign nears its release date, Lattimer Communications will be wrapping up final production elements during the next week in Albany.
At the EDC’s June meeting, held Wednesday, Marketing Director Barbara Rivera Holmes said that development of the organization’s new branding campaign was nearing completion and was tentatively scheduled to roll out July 14.
“The campaign is going to launch July 14,” Holmes said. “It was originally set for July 7, but we moved it out a few days to make sure we had the right amount of time to cast and shoot.”
Holmes said that representatives from Lattimer held casting auditions in Albany through today and would be shooting images next week. Those images will then be used for various media elements such as digital banners and billboards, as well as print, radio and TV ad spots.
“There’s a whole public relations initiative that drives the process,” Holmes said. “It’s pretty cool. The campaign will utilize so many different types of media.”
When asked about how the casting process worked, Holmes said that The Levy in Albany won the contract for handling the general casting call through its outlets and that EDC representatives and different civic and business partners also submitted lists of possible candidates.
“We identified some people, but then it was also open to the community,” Holmes said. “It will be interesting to see. All those names go into a pool actually and from those there will be recommendations about who will be chosen.”
The re-branding campaign has been in the works since 2012 when it was determined at the EDC’s strategic planning meeting that year that one of Albany’s biggest issues when trying to recruit new business and industry was negative public internal perception of the community.
In an effort to change that perception, the EDC began working on a campaign to re-brand the city by using input from area residents.
Over the past two years the EDC conducted focus groups, telephone surveys and one-on-one meetings with area leaders to determine how best to market the community.
The EDC then partnered with Lattimer Communications to design a media campaign to re-brand Albany in hopes of making it more marketable when recruiting new companies to the area.
“We’re excited to see what the future holds for the branding campaign,” said new EDC President Justin Strickland. “We steeped it in research. We feel like the campaign is designed to do what was our No. 1 strategic initiative from our plan, which is to change the perception of Albany internally. We’re proud of the work Lattimer has done and we’re thankful that we’ve had great participation through our renewal task force, which has been heavily involved in helping us plan for the campaign and really getting the campaign off the ground. We’re excited to see it roll out.”
In other business, the EDC board voted unanimously to approve the commission’s 2014-15 budget of $875,000. The new plan shows a $179,000 decrease in overall spending from $1,054,000 last year to $875,000 this year. While the budget calls for a decrease in income of $4,000 coming from Industry Celebration Week and Interest Income, the majority of the income decrease will actually come from a reduction in the expenses stemming from the re-branding campaign and other marketing.
Last year the EDC budgeted income of $300,000 from its reserves under the line items Business Intelligence Project and Marketing and Branding Project. The same amount was budgeted under expenses for those same items.
This year’s budget calls for only $25,000 from reserves for Business Intelligence Project and an additional $100,000 for Marketing and Branding Project to offset proposed spending in those areas.
While the budget shows significant decreases in a number of expense areas, it does call for increased spending for other line items. The largest spending increases on the budget are in the areas of Payroll Salaries and Payroll Benefits. Salaries are budgeted to increase $16,600 from $283,400 in 2013-14 to $300,000 for the coming year. Benefits are budgeted to increase by $13,279 from $49,996 last year to $63,275 this year.
Last year’s payroll expenses included then EDC President Ted Clem, as well as the rest of the current staff. With Clems’ departure and Strickland being promoted to that position, the organization is expected to hire additional support staff.
The EDC’s next monthly meeting is scheduled for July 16 at 11 a.m.