Middle of everywhere

Commissioners sign-off on Marketing Taskforce report

By JOSH COTTON jcotton@timesobserver.com The report from the Warren County Marketing Taskforce is divided into five focus areas. What follows is a synopsis of the report, which is to be available for download on the county website. Shape the Narrative The report acknowledges that the county has “tried to develop a brand” but “none has succeeded in fully implementing or having their outcomes widely adopted by the community, government and business interests.” Research of the various state-designated destination areas around the state revealed that “most of these regions have adopted a logo and a mantra.” Dividing the county then into assets, the report “recommends developing the stories of each of our County’s assets and – over time – helping to fill the PA Wilds map with unique, amazing tourism draws within the County.” The mantra then “briefly conveys the character of Warren County, gives an indication of what may be found here, serves as an overarching story that each of the asset stories will fit within, sets our area apart from already established locations, entices readers to act and visit and/or stay and does this all from the perspective of the wants and needs of the consumer.” The report then at lengths details the development of the campaign centered around that mantra. Top recommendations for the mantra include “Our idea of a rush hour” or “Warren, PA rush hour;” “Find your outside voice” and “It’s Yours” which they acknowledge would be “best paired with something authentic about the area.” Should additional options be preferred, the report outlines procedure for a competition to develop the mantra. In this focus area is the ‘Warren Prize,’ a “concept to create incentives to encourage entreprensurship and business development in Warren County... to jump start that type of innovative thinking.” A competition for the ‘Prize’ would be held “for the best new ideas for economic development” and “attract the next wave in any field or a specific field....” Incentives could include “free rent, space sharing, prize money, support/mentorship, coffee ups/wine downs, co-working spaces, use of empty storefronts, central point to live – front porch idea to cross pollinate (and) help investigating the region when looking for where to grow.” Destination Marketing The report indicates that “the marketing campaign needs to be laser focused on a singular message. “It is also apparent that Warren County has many assets and asset groupings to promote as destinations and none should be ignored in an effort to market to the County.” 12 primary assets were identified: ¯ Allegheny Reservoir/Kinzua Dam/Bent Run Waterfall/Rim Rock/Jakes Rocks/Kinzua Beach/Numerous Trails/Campgrounds/major events including Kinzua Country Tango Adventure Race and Jakes Witch Project; ¯ Bear Lake and environs; ¯ City of Warren/Historic district/Washington Park/cultural & history attractions and environs; ¯ Chapman Dam/Clarendon area/Johnny Appleseed Festival/Rocky Gap Trail/Tanbark Trail and environs; ¯ Hearts Content/Rocky Gap and environs; ¯ North Country Trail and surrounds; ¯ Pa. Game Lands #86/Tidioute/Boardinghouse Trail/Tanbark Trail/Bridge at Remagen; ¯ Pa. Game Lands #282/Akeley Swamp/Sheffield/Hector Falls and environs; ¯ Sugar Grove and environs; ¯ System of land and water trails of the county; ¯ System of Pa. Game Lands 29, 86, 263 and 282; ¯ Youngsville/Warren County Fair/Beanfields Trail/Anders Run Natural Area/Buckaloons Recreation Area/Brokenstraw Creek Bike Hike Trail and environs. Each of those were assessed and the plan is to develop marketing to promote tourism for one area at a time. “This review led to the nomination of the Allegheny Reservoir as the epicenter for focused tourism marketing and asset enhancement,” the report states, “with special preliminary emphasis on the lands and waterways from the Kinzua Dam (west) to Rimrock (east) and from Dewdrop Campground (south) to Handsome Lake Campground (north).” A motto would be developed for each area that fits under the auspices of the county mantra. Wayfinding enhancement includes a call for “expand(ed) cellular connectivity to all identified assets within the region” which is “important for enjoyability of visit as well as safety.” Possible attractions and upgrades identified include a floating stage at Kinzua Beach, water slides at Kinzua Beach, a “bike/hike trail on railroad grade on north side of Allegheny River from Eagles Club to Kinzua Dam with bridge connector to the Visitors Center at Big Bend,” a suspension bridge from Rimrock to Jakes Rocks, zip-line and rope options, a database of searchable hikes/paddles/cycling trips, etc., linking historical, cultural and environmental assets to water trails, bus excursions, expansion at Kinzua Wolf Run Marina, attracting and supporting enterprisingly and developing outdoor-based educational programming and eco-challenge events. Virtual Warren County The report indicates that the “virtual footprint” of Warren County is “much less impressive” than the county appears on a map. Search result analysis completed revealed that “our current entreaties to be discovered by those outside of Warren County are largely being obscured by electronic competition.” In addition to needing to be “easily discoverable online,” the report states that “it is essential that web content to be generated, geolocated, linked, calendarized, search engine optimized, evaluated and made accessible for the satisfaction of residents, the growth of tourism and the resettlement of Warren County.” This focus area also discusses the importance of broadband connectivity for county residents. A project dubbed “Virtual Warren County” looks at a host of strategies and possibilities that could be implemented to push forward the county’s digital footprint as well as laying out the case for an investment in internet marketing. Promoting & Preparing for Growth “Though a world-famous festival in Warren County may be a decade or more away, the Warren County Marketing Task Force proposes that the county take steps to promote and support homegrown events that show the hallmark signs of longevity, growth and community investment seen in successful large-scale festivals,” the report states. Market research and identifying target markets are suggested as well as the support of existing events and festivals “to reach target markets outside of Warren County.” The report calls for long-range infrastructure development as well as an effort to “grow an epic one-of-a-kind multi-day event that is expressive of Warren County and earns the support of local residents that attracts a minimum of 100,000 people to participate annually.” A host of existing festivals, future options and event ideas are detailed in the following pages of the report. Affiliations, collaborations, partnerships and “symbiotic scheduling” are all elements of this focus area. A calendar of all events is identified as a priority in this focus area as well as the last one. Community Growth Initiatives Several initiatives are suggested in this area: ¯ “The designation of Warren County as the nation’s first College Graduate Student Loan Deferment/Repayment Zone,” the report states, works as it sounds. “Program costs may be achieved through public, private, corporate or individual funds or an amalgamation of any of these sources.” ¯ The ‘Warren Prize’ discussed earlier. ¯ A ‘Nest-Egger Relocation Project’ aimed at recruiting “active individuals of middle- to upper-income with either pensions or independent means... who seek to leave expensive, crowded cities for a more affordable rural location where decent retirement incomes may be stretched or conserved and significant assets may purchase more.” ¯ An ‘Educational Incubator/Elder University’ that “could function as a specific focus research setting in direct support of economic development and/or Warren Prize winners....” ¯ Establishing Warren County as a ‘North American Safe Haven’ – “a geographic region determined to be ‘an area exceptionally resilient to foreseeable future crises.’ The NASH certification will identify and showcase known community strengths, including social cohesiveness and preparedness, availability of locally-sourced foods and other agricultural products, abundance of freshwater and natural resources, healthy ecosystems and environmental services...” and more.

The report from the Warren County Marketing Taskforce is divided into five focus areas. What follows is a synopsis of the report, which is to be available for download on the county website.

Shape the Narrative

The report acknowledges that the county has “tried to develop a brand” but “none has succeeded in fully implementing or having their outcomes widely adopted by the community, government and business interests.”

Research of the various state-designated destination areas around the state revealed that “most of these regions have adopted a logo and a mantra.”

Dividing the county then into assets, the report “recommends developing the stories of each of our County’s assets and – over time – helping to fill the PA Wilds map with unique, amazing tourism draws within the County.”

The mantra then “briefly conveys the character of Warren County, gives an indication of what may be found here, serves as an overarching story that each of the asset stories will fit within, sets our area apart from already established locations, entices readers to act and visit and/or stay and does this all from the perspective of the wants and needs of the consumer.”

The report then at lengths details the development of the campaign centered around that mantra.

Top recommendations for the mantra include “Our idea of a rush hour” or “Warren, PA rush hour;” “Find your outside voice” and “It’s Yours” which they acknowledge would be “best paired with something authentic about the area.”

Should additional options be preferred, the report outlines procedure for a competition to develop the mantra.

In this focus area is the ‘Warren Prize,’ a “concept to create incentives to encourage entrepreneurship and business development in Warren County… to jump start that type of innovative thinking.”

A competition for the ‘Prize’ would be held “for the best new ideas for economic development” and “attract the next wave in any field or a specific field….”

Incentives could include “free rent, space sharing, prize money, support/mentorship, coffee ups/wine downs, co-working spaces, use of empty storefronts, central point to live – front porch idea to cross pollinate (and) help investigating the region when looking for where to grow.”

Destination Marketing

The report indicates that “the marketing campaign needs to be laser focused on a singular message.

“It is also apparent that Warren County has many assets and asset groupings to promote as destinations and none should be ignored in an effort to market to the County.”

12 primary assets were identified:

¯ Allegheny Reservoir/Kinzua Dam/Bent Run Waterfall/Rim Rock/Jakes Rocks/Kinzua Beach/Numerous Trails/Campgrounds/major events including Kinzua Country Tango Adventure Race and Jakes Witch Project;

¯ Bear Lake and environs;

¯ City of Warren/Historic district/Washington Park/cultural & history attractions and environs;

¯ Chapman Dam/Clarendon area/Johnny Appleseed Festival/Rocky Gap Trail/Tanbark Trail and environs;

¯ Hearts Content/Rocky Gap and environs;

¯ North Country Trail and surrounds;

¯ Pa. Game Lands #86/Tidioute/Boardinghouse Trail/Tanbark Trail/Bridge at Remagen;

¯ Pa. Game Lands #282/Akeley Swamp/Sheffield/Hector Falls and environs;

¯ Sugar Grove and environs;

¯ System of land and water trails of the county;

¯ System of Pa. Game Lands 29, 86, 263 and 282;

¯ Youngsville/Warren County Fair/Beanfields Trail/Anders Run Natural Area/Buckaloons Recreation Area/Brokenstraw Creek Bike Hike Trail and environs.

Each of those were assessed and the plan is to develop marketing to promote tourism for one area at a time.

“This review led to the nomination of the Allegheny Reservoir as the epicenter for focused tourism marketing and asset enhancement,” the report states, “with special preliminary emphasis on the lands and waterways from the Kinzua Dam (west) to Rimrock (east) and from Dewdrop Campground (south) to Handsome Lake Campground (north).”

A motto would be developed for each area that fits under the auspices of the county mantra.

Wayfinding enhancement includes a call for “expand(ed) cellular connectivity to all identified assets within the region” which is “important for enjoyability of visit as well as safety.”

Possible attractions and upgrades identified include a floating stage at Kinzua Beach, water slides at Kinzua Beach, a “bike/hike trail on railroad grade on north side of Allegheny River from Eagles Club to Kinzua Dam with bridge connector to the Visitors Center at Big Bend,” a suspension bridge from Rimrock to Jakes Rocks, zip-line and rope options, a database of searchable hikes/paddles/cycling trips, etc., linking historical, cultural and environmental assets to water trails, bus excursions, expansion at Kinzua Wolf Run Marina, attracting and supporting enterprisingly and developing outdoor-based educational programming and eco-challenge events.

Virtual Warren County

The report indicates that the “virtual footprint” of Warren County is “much less impressive” than the county appears on a map.

Search result analysis completed revealed that “our current entreaties to be discovered by those outside of Warren County are largely being obscured by electronic competition.”

In addition to needing to be “easily discoverable online,” the report states that “it is essential that web content to be generated, geolocated, linked, calendarized, search engine optimized, evaluated and made accessible for the satisfaction of residents, the growth of tourism and the resettlement of Warren County.”

This focus area also discusses the importance of broadband connectivity for county residents.

A project dubbed “Virtual Warren County” looks at a host of strategies and possibilities that could be implemented to push forward the county’s digital footprint as well as laying out the case for an investment in internet marketing.

Promoting & Preparing for Growth

“Though a world-famous festival in Warren County may be a decade or more away, the Warren County Marketing Task Force proposes that the county take steps to promote and support homegrown events that show the hallmark signs of longevity, growth and community investment seen in successful large-scale festivals,” the report states.

Market research and identifying target markets are suggested as well as the support of existing events and festivals “to reach target markets outside of Warren County.”

The report calls for long-range infrastructure development as well as an effort to “grow an epic one-of-a-kind multi-day event that is expressive of Warren County and earns the support of local residents that attracts a minimum of 100,000 people to participate annually.”

A host of existing festivals, future options and event ideas are detailed in the following pages of the report.

Affiliations, collaborations, partnerships and “symbiotic scheduling” are all elements of this focus area.

A calendar of all events is identified as a priority in this focus area as well as the last one.

Community Growth Initiatives

Several initiatives are suggested in this area:

¯ “The designation of Warren County as the nation’s first College Graduate Student Loan Deferment/Repayment Zone,” the report states, works as it sounds. “Program costs may be achieved through public, private, corporate or individual funds or an amalgamation of any of these sources.”

¯ The ‘Warren Prize’ discussed earlier.

¯ A ‘Nest-Egger Relocation Project’ aimed at recruiting “active individuals of middle- to upper-income with either pensions or independent means… who seek to leave expensive, crowded cities for a more affordable rural location where decent retirement incomes may be stretched or conserved and significant assets may purchase more.”

¯ An ‘Educational Incubator/Elder University’ that “could function as a specific focus research setting in direct support of economic development and/or Warren Prize winners….”

¯ Establishing Warren County as a ‘North American Safe Haven’ – “a geographic region determined to be ‘an area exceptionally resilient to foreseeable future crises.’ The NASH certification will identify and showcase known community strengths, including social cohesiveness and preparedness, availability of locally-sourced foods and other agricultural products, abundance of freshwater and natural resources, healthy ecosystems and environmental services…” and more.

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