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Horizon Council unveils new marketing strategy

By Staff | Feb 3, 2015

A new marketing strategy for economic development in Lee County was unveiled on Friday by the Horizon Council for the business community and joined by a look back at the successes of 2014.

Nearly 400 business and community leaders attended the annual meeting for the council and the Horizon Foundation. Held at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers, the agenda covered last year’s economic highlights, the plan moving forward and a new digital ambassador program.

“2015 promises to be a great year for Lee County, and there are many new initiatives under way,” Denis Noah, the 2015 chairman of the public-private economic development partnership, said.

In 2014, Lee County entered into an incentive deal with Gartner that is anticipated to create 400 additional high-wage jobs and will double the company’s footprint locally. Comcast announced a new call center that will employ more than 220 workers, and Alta Resources will expand by 900 jobs.

Lee County’s Industrial Development Authority helped Cypress Cove with a $20 million bond in financing to build new memory care residences and assisted Eastern Metal Supply with the financing needed to start construction on a door and window assembly plant that will employ 120 workers.

Other highlights from the year included announcements by companies for plans to relocate to Lee, including the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, Universal Trailer and the Camuto Group.

In the coming year, Lee County’s Economic Development Office will work on the new strategy to market the area with Development Counsellors International, in partnership with Priority Marketing. Andy Levine, president of DCI, spoke to attendees about the multi-prong plan set for Lee County.

“We’re really excited to be working with Lee County,” he said.

The marketing strategy will consist of:

n Brand development for the county

n Introducing a new website in March

n Smart approach to lead generation

In terms of lead generation, Levine touched on the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation picking Lee County for its relocation spot. He compared landing the deal to “finding a needle in haystack.”

“This will help to identify some of those in advance,” he said of the new plan.

The marketing strategy also included:

n Telling Lee County’s story via the media

n Influencing the influences, such as site consultants for companies

n Launching a digital ambassadors campaign

Levine explained that DCI conducts a survey of hundreds of corporate executives and site selection professionals every couple of years to get an idea of the best practices for marketing communities. The results indicate that the Internet and websites are ranked as the most effective marketing techniques.

He also noted that Florida recently ranked No. 2 on a list for most favorable business climate.

“This is, I think, exceptional news as we begin to market Lee County and tell your story,” Levin said.

Glen Salyer, executive director of the Lee County Economic Development Office, announced the launch of the Lee County Digital Ambassador Program at the meeting. Participants or “ambassadors” sign up and receive links to positive county-based news to share on social media networking sites.

“Remember, the more good news you share, the more you help enhance Lee County’s reputation as a great place to live and work,” he said. “Great things are happening in Lee County.”

John Boland, vice president of strategy and business development for the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, also took the stage on Friday. He explained that the company, also known as HERC, is a division of Hertz Global Holdings with plans to spin off. It has been in Lee for about nine months.

“We’ll be two separate entities,” Boland said. “That will happen, the question is just when.”

The separation is anticipated to occur this summer and include a new company name.

In operation for about 50 years, HERC rents industrial and construction equipment, including trucks, lighting, generators and more. The company’s partners include John Deere, Genie and others.

“We expect them to travel here for business,” he said of the partners.

Down the road, HERC plans to invest in the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics, with an eye on locally-based higher education institutions as a talented workforce pool to tap.

“We want to invest in growth,” Boland said.

The company will employ up to 700 workers over a two-year period.

A low tax environment and robust tourism economy were also reasons why it selected Lee.

Dennie Hamilton, president of the Horizon Council, wrapped up the annual meeting by stating that there was great economic development and business progress made within Lee County in 2014.

“We look forward to more victories this year,” he said.

For more information on the Horizon Council, visit online: www.leecountybusiness.com.