In the fall of 2015, the city of Marion’s economic development organization was on the hunt for a keynote speaker for its annual business leader event. The loss of major manufacturing jobs in recent decades had a devastating impact on the local economy in Marion and the area needed a jolt.  

After hearing about our marketing and PR work with economic development organizations including the national Site Selectors Guild, AEP Economic Development and other Ohio communities, Marion CAN DO! invited FH president and CEO Bryan Haviland, a Marion native, to headline the event.

Our Strategic Approach

In preparation for his speech, Bryan worked closely with Columbus 2020 and Marion CAN DO! to blend best practices from economic development and communications with his personal perspective having grown up in the area.

Examples of innovative leadership in Marion’s relevant history were mingled with demonstrations of how like-minded communities achieved economic development success by focusing on and marketing their unique claims. The presentation’s goal was to inspire and challenge the audience to rally around how a “new” Marion could be effectively positioned.

A Tangible Reminder

Beyond the presentation itself, we worked with Marion CAN DO! to create branded binoculars that reinforced the theme and importance of helping people see Marion differently. Presentation attendees received this tangible take-home reminder of the community’s opportunity to rally its resources around a single marketing vision.

Successful Event

The event drew more than 125 business leaders from the community, including those from Marion’s largest employers. Bryan walked the group through:

  • Relevant history of Marion businesses,
  • Observations and lessons on best practice communications and
  • Specific keys to success in collaborating with community leaders to develop a marketable vision for Marion.

Bryan’s presentation was the shot of energy and inspiration Marion needed. He implored community leaders to rally economic development efforts around a singular vision and distinguished claims to key business targets.

The presentation was featured on the front page of the Sunday Marion Star newspaper and it invigorated the community’s interest in a new vision plan.

Check back for part two of our Revitalizing Marion, Ohio case study to hear how we worked with Marion’s community leaders to develop the city’s vision.  

P.S. If you need a speaker for your next event, let us know.

Leave a Reply