The Warren County Marketing Taskforce was started in 2017 as a Resolution adopted by the Warren County Board of Commissioners with the general directive to produce a report with recommendations for the County to improve the marketing and promotion of the region and its assets. The Marketing Taskforce has finished their research and proposals and has released an over 90-page, comprehensive report, which is being presented at today’s Commissioners Meeting by Chuck Gray, Chairperson of the Taskforce, and Commissioner Jeff Eggleston, the Taskforce’s originator.
The Marketing Taskforce was made up of 7 appointed members and several community members and operated under the mission statement: “To generate recommendations for Warren County to improve tourism, encourage economic development and investment, and workforce recruitment. These recommendations will include actionable and achievable projects that can make an immediate impact on the aesthetics, efficiency, and effectiveness of the general efforts to market and promote the entirety of Warren County, Pennsylvania.”
The Taskforce was made up of Chuck Gray, Struthers Library Theatre Artistic Director; Jeff Eggleston, Warren County Commissioner; James Decker, Executive Director of the WCCBI; Sherry Tune, Allegheny National Forest Supervisor; Dave Sherman, Executive Director of the Warren Visitor’s Bureau; Piper VanOrd, Entrepreneur and Owner of Allegheny Outfitters; and Lisa Hagberg, Director of Youngsville Borough. All members have done an amazing job of bringing together bold and unique ideas and presenting a fresh perspective on how to improve marketing and promotion in Warren County.
The Taskforce met over a number of months in 2017 and 2018 to gather information and flesh out their ideas. Once the ideas were fleshed out, Chuck Gray, Taskforce Chairperson, drafted the text version of the initial report with help from John Able, a citizen member of the Taskforce, and Commissioner Eggleston. The final version of the report was designed by Commissioner Eggleston with photographic contributions from Commissioner Ben Kafferlin, Phil Gilbert, Gary Lester, Piper VanOrd of Allegheny Outfitters and Jeremy Beckling of Stratos Drone Services.
Developing the Five Focus Areas
The Marketing Taskforce, with the help of its chairperson, Chuck Gray, engaged in “Compression Planning” in order to gather and organize ideas to research and develop as a part of the Taskforce Report process. Compression Planning is an open and visual based framework which allows for a comfortable platform to be creative and work quickly to formulate ideas. Through that process, the Taskforce developed Five Focus Areas to develop for the report. The Five Focus Areas were: Shape the Narrative, Destination Marketing, Virtual Warren County, Promoting and Preparing for Growth, Community Growth Initiatives.
Shape The Narrative
The group quickly addressed the challenge that for Warren County to promote itself to other communities and individuals, it would first need to unify and improve its image of itself. IN this area, the Taskforce proposes generating a campaign of positive, cohesive and accurate communication about and for Warren County to be implemented collaboratively and at every potential level of communication.
Due to limited resources for development in the County, the Taskforce realized that areas of the region needed to be prioritized and focused on one at a time to make significant gains in utilization and monetization of our assets. This involves connecting community and visitors to our region by selecting, developing, and marketing a singular County asset to a tipping point of self-sustaining tourism growth before continuing process with next singular County asset.
Virtual Warren County, Pa
Warren County, like many rural communities, has had challenges with developing its internet presence and utilizing new technology in a meaningful way to share information and increase tourism and promotion opportunities. In this area, the Taskforce proposes launching an internet promotional strategy and infrastructure that includes an online, countywide calendar of events with expanded functions to promote tourism, wayfinding, and community collaboration. The Taskforce also recommends promoting universal broadband Internet coverage throughout Warren County.
Promoting & Preparing For Growth
In order to bring tourists, new workers, and retain an active working population, the Taskforce recommended improving and amplifying our County events as well as creating new, big event and amenity opportunities to create an image of an active community. This would involve promoting Warren County through the development of seminal events and attractions, offering enhanced marketing opportunities to existing events and attractions, and growing infrastructure to support large-scale events.
Community Growth Initiatives
The County’s population has declined over the past forty plus years, so the Taskforce prioritized addressing this issue in order to revitalize the local community. This would involve devising strategies to successfully recruit, connect, and settle “nest-eggers” (active individuals of independent means) and “millennials” (a person reaching adulthood in the early 21st century) in Warren County. A focused effort will be made to promote area resources for prospects interested in active lifestyles, the arts and crafts community, and ecological awareness. This effort will result in an increase of population that will bring generations of workers, investors, volunteers, and entrepreneurs to Warren County.
The County and the Community are very grateful to the persons involved in the Marketing Taskforce for their hard work and dedication to raising the bar for the County’s promotional efforts by authoring the over 90-page report, which will be a tool for future development in Warren County.
With the report available to influencers and municipal governments, the goal is to now prioritize the projects and recommendations listed and turn them into actions. For this, Commissioner Eggleston has authored a new Resolution to reauthorize the Warren County Marketing Taskforce for another year with the mission of assisting in the implementation of the various recommendations. The group will have a minimum of seven members, but there is room for many more, all to be appointed by the Commissioners Office. This reconstituted and revitalized Taskforce will again meet regularly, as needed, to coordinate, research, and make proposals to move the overall mission of the Taskforce forward.