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Breaking through the Clutter: New Effort Seeks to Generate Attention, Highlight Sumter’s Asset

July 07, 2009

There are several thousand communities just in America that want these economic development projects as much as we do,” said Greg A. Thompson, chairman of the Sumter Development Board, Sumter County’s lead economic development agency. “Some are more advanced than we are while some are wishing they were in our position. But you have to break through the clutter to get the attention of industrial development prospects, and that’s what this new effort will do.” 

The new campaign includes a wide range of promotional and educational materials, from printed materials designed to inform visitors about Sumter, to interactive software materials pitched to industrial development prospects. The campaign was paid for entirely by the SSGI, and was produced by Marketing Alliance, Inc., of Jackson, Miss., a firm well known for its marketing savvy and high-tech approach. 

But it’s the 3-D virtual tour of downtown, the panoramic imagery and the short videos that will catch the eyes of prospects. 

“There was a time when all we had was a 3-ring binder and a VHS tape, and that served its purpose. But today, if you’re trying to convince people to invest in your community with those kind of low-tech methods, you won’t get their attention, much less a response,” Thompson said. 

“American Spirit, Global Edge” consists of printed materials, an interactive virtual tour, panoramic images of Sumter’s community and industrial assets, and a half dozen digital videos showing prospects why Sumter should be considered for their future corporate growth. 

“With the tours, the panoramic images and the videos, we can give prospects a real sense of what it’s like to be on the ground here in Sumter,” Schwedler said. “We believe that the key to getting prospects here in reality is to first bring them here virtually.” 

Another major component of the campaign is the manufacture of a free-standing touch screen kiosk, so that Sumter can put its best foot forward anywhere. The 5-foot tall kiosk features a touch screen interface through which users can learn more about Sumter, its industrial assets, Shaw Air Force Base and Sumter’s downtown. 

“This was designed primarily to appeal to industrial prospects, but it can be used at a lot of different community functions and by different organizations, groups that want to teach others more about Sumter and what it has to offer,” Schwedler said. “We can also put this on a DVD or a thumb drive and send it across the globe. In a global economy, you’ve got to have global reach. And things have to happen fast.” 

Jay Cox, Chairman of the SSGI, the Development Board’s private sector arm, said Sumter County has traditionally not had much funding to educate prospects. Before the SSGI was founded in 2005, the Development Board’s entire annual budget for marketing was minimal. Since the inception of the SSGI, the Board has seen an annual ten-fold increase in marketing funding, courtesy of the SSGI and its 65 private-sector members. 

“This isn’t about throwing money at a problem,” Cox said. “This is about laying the groundwork for increased development prospects for years to come. The bottom line is this campaign will help us stand out from the crowd and get development prospects to Sumter. That, in a nutshell, is what the SSGI was created to do.” 

To see the videos from the "American Spirit, Global Edge" campaign, click here.



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