Working to Improve Fairmont’s Visibility
Monday, August 13, 2018
Marketing is key to economic development. It can help to expand a region’s visibility and ultimately attract new visitors, residents and businesses.
Fairmont is engaged in a broad range of marketing efforts to promote itself. But not all are readily apparent.
“We’re marketing Fairmont and Martin County locally but also nationally and even internationally in an effort to attract both workforce and businesses to our area” says Linsey Preuss, Fairmont’s economic development coordinator. “It’s something people wouldn’t really know unless they asked. Our efforts are focused within but also outside of the community. These external efforts have a huge impact.”
Preuss notes that some of this external promotion is straightforward, such as advertising in strategic publications. Fairmont places ads in the Annual MN Magazine and Business Xpansion Journal, which cater to an audience of site selectors.
Most of the outreach is more nuanced. It involves a lot of relationship building and networking. Preuss says being involved in associations is valuable. As a member of the Minnesota Marketing Partnership, Fairmont can leverage its marketing dollars because it partners with the State of Minnesota and other economic development organizations to attend state, national and international trade shows.
“It would be very time consuming and expensive for me to go to all of the events on my own, so I partner with others in order to be seen at nearly 30 events annually,” she says. “In 2017, we participated in a three very successful events that resulted in a number of new relationships with worldwide site selectors.”
Making the community look appealing to site selectors is a goal. Some of the priorities outlined for site selection include: transportation access, the availability of skilled labor and a good quality of life. Fairmont has good highway access but is working to improve its labor market and tout its quality of life.
Fairmont Area Life is a joint effort between Fairmont Economic Development Authority, the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce, the local workforce center, Visit Fairmont and area businesses. The initiative’s goal is to showcase the area’s amenities and attract prospective residents. It includes a website with a wealth of information as well as mentoring opportunities.
Research has shown that people ages 30-49 are increasingly moving from metro to rural areas, seeking a slower pace of life and safe communities to raise their children. Preuss see this as a big opportunity to build the community as well as Fairmont’s workforce.
“When people move here, they bring their network of contacts and families with them, which is a benefit to Fairmont. With mentoring, we can help them become integrated in our community — to find a job, to get involved and to thrive in our community so that it’s not just a place they live, it’s a place they call home,” says Preuss.
Fairmont Area Life has found success in pairing newcomers with mentors with similar lifestyles. “We have a range of folks willing to be mentors, from singles to people with young kids to empty nesters,” says Preuss. Mentors help people connect with schools, churches and volunteer opportunities. They introduce them to amenities like the outdoor recreation and arts programming.
Additional relationship building happens at conferences, trade shows and other events. Fairmont is part of the International Economic Development Council and the Economic Development Association of Minnesota.
This type of networking keeps Preuss up to date on the best practices and hot topics in economic development. She points out that Fairmont’s marketing efforts are varied because it’s trying to appeal to distinct audiences. “What is effective to market to businesses might not be effective for the workforce,” she says. “We strategize to bring different marketing messages to our unique audiences.”