Coming in at $16,691 under budget, the Department of Economic Development saved the majority of that sum during 2011 in the area of marketing expenses. Saving $11,569 of the originally budgeted $30,000 for marketing, officials hope to invest a lump sum into marketing efforts rather than maintenance-level work as in years past.
A breakdown of 2011 funds specifically earmarked for marketing included website costs, electronic media, print media, public relations, events, prospect support, special studies and existing industry support.
Items on the list for desired funding include logo design, promotional video development, prepared print advertisements and a revamped website.
"We've tried to do a lot in house and save some money," said Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon. "We need some help and it has taken us several years to ask for this because we want to be respectful of the budget."
Marketing Bartow County as a location for commercial and industrial development, the Department of Economic Development created the website www.locationofchoice.com. Lemmon proposes keeping the domain but altering the "dated" layout and design creating an integrated interface and optimizing the site's functionality for the purpose of site selection. Proposals have been collected from recommended agencies with experience in economic development marketing and will be reviewed for selection next month if the board so chooses.
"I believe the proposals are very attractive, I believe they're worth considering," Lemmon said, adding her criticism of the current website. "It's not as user-friendly as it needs to be. It's functional, it's not fancy. It's not what site selectors are used to seeing by way of using an iPad or an iPhone -- and it's not search engine optimized."
Also discussed at Tuesday's regular meeting was the approval of a scheduled debt service payment.