Council OKs plan to brand, market city

ESCANABA — Efforts to officially certify Escanaba as a Redevelopment Ready Community (RRC) reached an important milestone Thursday. The Escanaba City Council approved the city’s Marketing and Branding Plan.

Escanaba has been involved with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC’s) RRC program since 2014. and Escanaba will be the first city in the Upper Peninsula to meet the requirements for the program, which will let developers know the city is fully prepared for economic growth.

City Manager Jim O’Toole said the city council still had to complete one more task before this goal could be achieved — adopting a marketing and branding plan.

“…(It) outlines how we, as a community, will promote and market ourselves as part of the (MEDC RRC) program,” O’Toole said of the plan.

Late last year, a meeting was held to collect feedback from residents on the strengths and weaknesses of Escanaba’s existing marketing strategy.

“In December, we had a community outreach meeting with about 50 people there,” O’Toole said.

Based on feedback from the meeting, the Marketing and Branding Plan includes a list of key issues with the city’s marketing efforts. It recommends the city update or refresh its logo and tag line, develop guidelines for their logo and branding, roll out new stationery and business cards, update its website, develop a “family” of consistently-designed way-finding signs, and work toward connecting branding materials to redevelopment sites in 2017 and beyond.

O’Toole said now that it has been approved, the plan will be sent to the state government as proof the city has completed all of the tasks required for RRC certification.

In other business, the council:

– heard an update on efforts to hire a new city manager, as O’Toole plans to retire from the position later this year. O’Toole said out of a pool of 53 applicants (two of whom ended up withdrawing their applications), five finalists for the position have been chosen. The council approved O’Toole’s recommendation to reach out to the finalists and set up initial interviews.

– adopted the Five-Year Recreation Plan after a public hearing.

– voted in favor of retaining Cornell company Bugle Contracting for tree-trimming services near city power lines.

– voted in favor of retaining Gladstone company Fox Power to replace 39 city electrical distribution poles.