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Council looks at branding town

By Staff | Nov 21, 2014

Shepherdstown’s Town Council will look at the issue of economic development. Following a presentation at Tuesday nighfl towts meeting on “branding Shepherdstown,” the town council agreed to assemble a committee dedicated to exploring the issue of economic development downtown and in the greater Shepherdstown area.

Shepherdstown area resident Bob Shelley presented ideas for a Shepherdstown brand logo and slogan based on elements in the town’s recently erected welcome sign, for which Shelley was the designer.

“It’s your promise to your customer. It’s who you are and it’s how people perceive you as being,” Shelley said of the brand.

Shelley proposed combining the recognizable Odd Fellows eye found in the welcome sign’s center and the Budget Travel Magazine slogan “one of America’s coolest small towns.”

“It would be incorporated throughout all marketing material for the town,” he said.

Shelley recommended trademarking the brand mark and moving forward with a steering committee to further develop brand uses for things such as brochures, t-shirts, mugs, stationary and the like.

Shelley and members of the Shepherdstown Rotary club were commissioned to make the proposal last Tuesday following inquires made by the mayors office.

“I was gathering information,” Mayer Jim Auxer said.

Auxer admitted he isn’t familiar with the concept of branding, but said he wanted to find a way the town could benefit from its increased national exposure and popularity.

Council member David Rosen was in favor of the idea, but felt the proposal didnt go far enough to address Shepherdstown’s deeper economic development issues.

“What’s the goal here?” he asked.

Council member Karene Motivans supported the proposal but thought the idea needed alternatives.

“This needs full on community involvement,” she said.

Rosen seconded Motivans’s point.

“We need to do just as much work making sure that we have our community backing this as we did with the comprehensive plan,” he said.

Rosen suggested the brand proposal be considered as part of a greater investigation into ways to enhance business and cultural development in town.

“This would be a great thing for an economic development committee to take on,” he said.

“I think it’s great to put on the list of things that committee would do.”

Council member Bane Schill seconded Rosen’s suggestion.

“You need to have something to brand,” he said.

“And right now you have two or three retail stores and a big food court. Without actually changing the dynamics of the town a little bit, so what?” he went on to say.

After further discussion Rosen volunteered to make a presentation about the strategy and composition of an economic development committee at next month’s council meeting.

In an interview this week Rosen said hell propose that the economic development commission, be comprised of property owners, business owners, students and university representatives, among other stakeholder groups.

Rosen said the group’s mission will be four part, and will include initiates to support business retention and promote diversity; develop existing commercial properties; attract new business; and improve visitors’ experiences in the town.

The group’s mission pulls directly from objectives listed in Shepherdstown’s draft comprehensive plan: www.benchmarkplanning.com/images/project-files/ShepherdstownPlanpdf/Section4EcDevTourismShepherdstownThirdDraft20140807.pdf.

“As you can see by the draft comprehensive plan, we have spelled out some of the sub categories for each of those goals,” he said.

A second reading of the proposed comprehensive plan is also scheduled for the next Town Council meeting, to be held Tuesday, Dec. 9 at town hall.