New marketing plan in works for county

Paxton hoping to bottle the county’s current momentum


In a previous life in corporate America, Ken Paxton had a hand in some pretty memorable marketing campaigns.

Like the Roach Motel, for example.

“Who’s old enough to remember that one?” the executive director of the Greene County Development Corp. asked aloud Monday night in the basement of the Sierra Community Theatre. “Roaches check in, but they don’t check out?”

With the opening next summer of Greene County’s first destination hotel, the only roach motels left in Paxton’s life are the ones in his anecdotes.

A three-story hotel will accompany the $40 million Wild Rose casino that state regulators OK’d this month for the intersection of highways 30 and 4.

Looking to bottle a part of that momentum, Paxton on Monday assembled more than three dozen local business leaders at the Sierra to aid in the creation of a unified, countywide marketing plan.

“With so much going on,” Paxton said, “we’re at a point in our life where we need to market those things.”

Nothing concrete emerged from the first meeting, but as moderated by Rick Hunsaker, executive director of Region 12 Council of Governments, lists were made of the area’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

A marketing plan will be rolled out in 2015.

“Everybody’s excited right now, and it’s awesome,” commented Robby Pedersen, proprietor of the historical furniture shop RVP-1875 and the History Boy Theatre Company.

Strengths included the Bell Tower, the bike trail and local architecture.

Weaknesses touched on everything from the area’s lack of housing and day care to a need for more way-finding signage.

Iowa State University, Perry’s Hotel Pattee, the bike trail and the Lincoln Highway were cited among opportunities for the county to explore.

Money, a lack of volunteers and a continual loss of high school graduates were listed as threats.

If anything, the evening offered a chance to glean marketing insight from Wild Rose itself, which will break ground on its Jefferson casino at 1 p.m. July 10.

The casino markets almost exclusively to people 50 and older, according to Amy Rubel, vice president of operations/marketing for West Des Moines-based Wild Rose Entertainment.

And, that audience prefers country music.

“If anybody asks me if I’m going to book Nickelback, the answer’s no,” Rubel said.

Marketing the Jefferson casino will be much easier, she said, than marketing the Wild Rose casino in Emmetsburg.

“Emmetsburg doesn’t have near what Jefferson has,” Rubel said.

For one, the ability to pull traffic off of highways 30 and 4 could pay off for Jefferson, she noted.

She was quick to praise an idea by Tower View Team of Jefferson Matters: Main Street to put art on the roofs of downtown buildings that would be visible only from the Bell Tower.

“That is the coolest, most out-of-the-box thing I’ve ever heard,” Rubel said. “That’s one of the best things you’ve got going.”

She encouraged the group as a whole to make a video touting Greene County’s offerings.

“The key to success,” she said, “is getting your name out there.”

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