Earlier, we touched on the need to “tell our story.” This week, I’d like to expand on what that process entails.

So what makes us believe that telling our story, or “marketing” ourselves will work?

Geographically, we are situated next door to central Indiana’s current leader in growth and expansion: Boone County. The historic facades of our downtown are already what many communities like Carmel, Fishers, Whitestown and Brownsburg are trying to recapture by replicating old world charm in new construction. We are already a collaborative, hardworking, flexible, ambitious and welcoming community, and today ... we have the visionary leadership, and political will, to embrace these attributes and expand on this solid foundation. Modifications and implementation of policy and priority are now required to adequately prepare for and support the kind of growth our community has identified as desirable.

One might think that you would be able to just sit down with a notepad and list all of the great things about our community, so as to write a glowing review that is full of exciting expletives meant to impress folks to the point where they enthusiastically load up their whole family and move to the land of milk and honey. However ... no one who has any product or service to market, in today’s globally accessible marketplace, would be so naive as to think the process is that easy. Effective marketing demands a well thought out plan.

So what goes into a “marketing plan” for our community?

Selecting a marketing team is priority No. 1. There are fabulous marketing firms in the business, and we are working with more than one. Not unlike any other profession, agencies excel in different aspects. The best person to paint your house may not be who you want painting your car. We approach our selection of agencies by determining which one is better suited to accomplish the specific task.

Naturally, we begin by identifying what’s already working in our favor: We have available land to develop. Our largest incorporated city is close to other growing cities and recreation. The majority of our schools are doing well. There are strong employers in the area. Most people that work here, live here. Downtown is starting to boom. Crawfordsville is a safe community. The adoption of green energy (solar power fields) is at the forefront of our electricity generation needs. These are but a few of the obvious positives.

Still, we have many opportunities to improve. Identifying our weaknesses is crucial to the process as well. Covering up our deficiencies is not the answer. Acknowledging them, and explaining what we are doing, or have done, to rectify them, is the correct approach. Everyone, and every community, has flaws. People appreciate honesty and understand that as long we have a plan to address our “issues” most are willing to accept that.

When we asked folks from outside of our region what they think about Crawfordsville and Montgomery County, this was the feedback we received: Crawfordsville lacks an identity. Crawfordsville is far from developer centers. The crime rate is higher than competitor communities. There’s a labor shortage. Required infrastructure is lacking. Highway traffic is heavy downtown. Limited cell service and high speed Internet availability in the rural areas. And, some schools are underperforming.

Some may argue the validity of these views? But perception is reality as they say.

In the end...we will have composed a manifesto that tells a story. One that explains how we were the first community in Indiana with electricity, and now we lead the state in solar energy production and conservation of our natural resources. How we are empowering our community to progress through smart investments in infrastructure. All while maintaining the charm of small-town America.

In the heart of the heartland, we connect businesses and residents to opportunities that improve quality of life. Access and possibility, community and convenience. We believe Crawfordsville and Montgomery County possesses the epitome of what “home” should be. And, in the end, we want everyone to envision their own chapter in our story.

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