Ulster County Executive Mike Hein Announces New Economic Development Marketing Initiatives

Posted October 16, 2014

Announcement Includes Commitment to Proactive New Marketing Agenda That
Rebrands Economic Development Efforts

KINGSTON, N.Y. (May 29, 2014) —County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Development Corporation (UCDC) Board met this morning to discuss a proactive marketing campaign that will highlight many of the important factors that make Ulster County an amazing place to live and conduct business.

County Executive Hein said: “So many positive changes have been made with UCDC recently that we believe a name change is now warranted. The new strategy includes aggressive marketing efforts to site selectors and the rebranding of UCDC, as well as the renaming of the county’s Office of Business Services. The goal is to make clear to both the local business community and prospective relocating businesses where to quickly turn to for assistance and to reaffirm that Ulster County is focused on economic growth and long-term sustainability. At the end of the day, this effort is about our economy, job creation and retention.” The rollout of this program follows the major internal restructuring of UCDC last year, which significantly reduced the size of the board to enhance the agency’s ability to provide business assistance, augment county operations and act at the speed of business.

At a special UCDC meeting at SUNY Ulster earlier today, Hein also renamed the Ulster County Office of Business Services the Ulster County Office of Economic Development because business leaders and site selectors already associate an Office of Economic Development with the types of services that meet their needs and as such also better aligns with internet word-search tools. “These name changes and the associated marketing plan will help Ulster County become more competitive in the ever-changing global environment.  They are designed to build upon our strengths and the efforts of the past, as well as welcoming anyone or any responsible company interested in moving to Ulster County,” Hein said.  “The Ulster County Office of Economic Development will be the one-stop shop for site selectors as well as area businesses.”

At the meeting, the UCDC Board also voted to rename UCDC the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance and unveiled its new logo. UCDC will serve as a resource for the Ulster County Office of Economic Development, with a focus on marketing and education initiatives.  The Ulster County Economic Development Alliance, as a local development corporation, is also uniquely situated to help Ulster County in returning county-owned properties to the tax rolls and maximizing the benefit to county taxpayers.  The UCDC Board (now known as UCEDA) has already agreed to assist the county in selling the 14 acre commercial property at 300 Flatbush Avenue in Kingston and another property located adjacent to the Golden Hill Health Care facility.  This will reduce the number of properties that are currently off the tax rolls and provide valuable commercial property back into the local inventory while assisting economic development.

Hein’s vision for enhancing the effectiveness of economic development efforts in the county is similar to his previous plan that help make the tourism sector a successful part of the Ulster County economy.  In 2009, Hein’s administration retooled the county’s tourism efforts by introducing the latest technology, partnering with the private sector, creating award-winning promotional campaigns, targeting promotion to the appropriate audiences and launching UlsterCountyAlive.com. As a result, since 2009 tourism in Ulster County has increased by 22 percent.

“The creation of a one-stop-shop for businesses looking to locate in Ulster County is an important step in modernizing and streamlining economic development efforts, making them as business-friendly as possible,” said Anthony Campagiorni UCDC Board President and Vice President for Business Development and Governmental Affairs at Central Hudson. “By working together to this end, we can continue to advance the County’s economic health and vitality.”

“The County Executive’s plan helps bring our economic development program into the modern age,” added Ulster County Legislator and UCDC (UCEDA) Board Member T.J. Briggs. “By working together we are taking proactive steps toward our shared goal of creating and retaining jobs in Ulster County.”

At Hein’s recommendation, UCDC developed a Request for Information (RFI) late last year to hire a marketing firm to help the county bolster its economic development program. After a competitive process, Focus Media, which has significant economic development experience and handles Ulster County Tourism marketing, was selected by the UCDC board.

Focus Media, ranked by PR Week as the largest agency in the Hudson Valley, is a multi-faceted firm specializing in marketing strategy, public relations, advertising, research, direct marketing, design and Web development. The agency is also the marketing partner to Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp.

“Focus Media is already a trusted partner, helping our county tourism growth each year, which includes a 5.65 percent increase in Occupancy Tax in 2013 over the previous year,” Hein said. “This enhanced partnership with Focus Media is expected to bolster the Ulster County economy and lead to more jobs for our residents.”

“By modeling this after the County’s tourism campaign, County Executive Hein is building on the success of similar efforts to bring economic development in Ulster County into the 21st century,” said Ward Todd, UCDC Board Secretary and President of the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce.  “We are proud to work with the County Executive on these marketing and educational initiatives.”

At the UCDC meeting, Focus Media President and CEO Josh Sommers outlined his firm’s initial strategic findings and recommendations following several work sessions he facilitated with representatives from government and the business community. Focus Media’s recommendations included:

  • Change the name of Office of Business Services to Office of Economic Development to communicate a clear front door for economic development and site selection;
  • Rebrand UCDC to Ulster County Economic Development Alliance (UCEDA) to better reflect the organization’s public/private partnership in fostering economic development; and
  • Build marketing assets, including developing new key messages promoting Ulster County’s points of difference, updating the County Web site with new messaging, creating marketing brochures for attraction and retention/expansion, producing a video, launching a publicity program, conducting direct marketing to site selectors and beginning general advertising in target markets.

“We appreciate the partnership with County Executive Mike Hein and the UCDC Board, but more importantly we appreciate what is at stake,” said Josh Sommers, president and CEO of Focus Media. “Focus Media will work hard to fulfill the County’s Executive’s vision with strategic marketing programs that will open new doors for Ulster County.”

Today, the UCDC board voted to support these new economic development initiatives and voted to formally adopt the name Ulster County Economic Development Alliance. Hein said he expects the first economic development marketing campaign to launch in the fall.