Tribune-Courier News Reporter
Benton City Council last week voted to pledge $4,000 toward a project that would fund research and rebranding efforts for Marshall County.
City councilman Josh Hendickson cast the lone dissenting vote among council members saying, he was in support of the project, but was concerned about whether Calvert City would come on board with the project.
“I agree with Randy that it will take the county working together to establish the plan and Calvert City is a huge part of that,” he said. “I also want to see the ROI – return on investment – I want to see what other counties have gotten back numerically.”
Marshall County Tourist Commission Executive Director Randy Newcomb has been working toward initiating a countywide rebranding effort to help him and others pinpoint a clearer identity for the county for the past several months, but last week Newcomb got one step closer to making that initiative a reality.
Newcomb confirmed Friday the Marshall County fiscal court, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development, city of Benton, city of Hardin and Tourism Commission had all pledged funds toward the re-branding study.
In November, the fiscal court agreed and pledged $6,000 toward the study, which will bridge the gap between local entities.
Not yet on board with the study is Calvert City, but Newcomb says he plans to meet with the city council there next month.
He said as of now a contract has not been signed with the firm that will conduct the study and make recommendations for bringing the county together on marketing efforts to attract increased tourism.
“Until I get all of the participants in place and the payments involved there won’t be any signing. The final decision will come after the meeting with Calvert City and we might have a presentation in front of all of the partners so they can see what’s going to be involved with the project,” said Newcomb.
Calvert City Mayor Lynn Jones said he couldn’t say one way or another how the Calvert City Council would respond to the countywide re-branding initiative, but said he thought a countywide rebranding could be beneficial to all parties.
“The city of Calvert has been looking at a similar plan for the last two years for a more in-depth study regarding Calvert City’s future,” he said. “In early 2013 we set aside $90 thousand for the 2014-15 budget to do that study.”
Jones said they have started soliciting firms for the Calvert City project.
“It’s unfortunate that our study might be going on at relatively the same time as another study,” he said. “I’m almost confident that if we weren’t already planning a study we would be putting funding into the plan to rebrand the county.”
When Newcomb first approached the fiscal court last year regarding the rebranding project he said the cost of the study would be around $55,000, which would be split into three payments.
When approaching the fiscal court in November to ask for its support of the project, he said, “We’re not seen as one cohesive unit. We’re seen as Hardin, Aurora, Calvert, Benton, Draffenville and the lakes area.”
Newcomb said two companies are being considered to handle the research – Northstar Destinations and ChandlerThinks, but until a contract is signed the choice won’t be revealed.