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Marketing firm's survey suggests Hudson isn't on businesses' radar

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: February 10, 2013 12:00 AM

Hudson -- Businesses outside Northeast Ohio have no idea where Hudson is or what it has to offer, according to a marketing firm hired by the city to boost its appeal to companies looking to relocate.

Council hired Denver-based Atlas Advertising in October to develop a branding and marketing plan for the city. The company's three-year plan would cost the city $254,000 with $76,317 spent initially, and Council yet to approve $89,000 in the second and third years.

Atlas Advertising's CEO Ben Wright shared the results of a survey Feb. 5 at Town Hall conducted to find out how local and non-local businesses perceived Hudson.

"Outside businesses don't know where Hudson is," Wright said. "It isn't on the radar."

Site selectors don't know where Akron and Cleveland are either, he said. The region isn't on the radar.

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Most businesses look for a new location because of growth, Wright said. They want to control costs to increase profits, and they want a location where there are plenty of potential employees. Remaining factors included available real estate, transportation and quality of life.

Marketing Hudson will focus on its professional level of talent, available business parks and visual attractiveness, Wright said.

Surveyed businesses in the region perceive Hudson as a city with community pride, a high quality of life, good schools and a well-educated work force, Wright said. The negatives included high costs, business unfriendly and problems with approval of projects.

Atlas Advertising will now develop strategies to market Hudson, which it will bring to a Council workshop for discussion and approval at the end of April or mid May. Then company officials will develop the support elements -- such as website content and advertising -- to execute the campaign.

Once the strategy is in place and tools created, Hudson Economic Development Director Chuck Wiedie will attend trade shows to get in front of businesses the city is interested in bringing to Hudson, he said.

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"We get in front of them armed with materials," Wiedie said.

Wiedie set specific annual objectives for Hudson: create 100 new jobs; contact 25 new business prospects; and sustain the business retention and expansion outreach program by conducting 60 visits annually with 50 percent to the top 30 businesses in Hudson.

Liz Murphy, representing the Merchants of Hudson, said she wanted to give retail businesses in Hudson a new look by targeting everyday shoppers instead of the high end or "snooty" shopper, which was the perception of people outside Hudson, according to the survey.

"Most [businesses] won't make it focusing on the high end category," Murphy said. "We want to be the No. 1 shopping district in Summit County, not just high end."

Hudson City School District Superintendent Steve Farnsworth asked about incentives for businesses like tax breaks for creating new jobs.

"I was under the impression we had to do incentives because others did," Farnsworth said.

Wright said incentives were so common that in a tie situation between two similar communities, an incentive often acts as a tie breaker.

Wiedie said communities must monitor incentives, which Hudson does annually, to determine if they have met the requirements of an agreement.

"You need consequences if they don't reach the goals," Wiedie said.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

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