The Half Moon Bay City Council unanimously approved a $6,000 expenditure last night to develop a branding strategy for the city, build its presence online through social media, and to pursue a strategy aimed at developing land for job creation. The ultimate goal of these efforts would be to drive economic development and bring in revenue.
The city's Economic Development workgroup made its recommendations to the council from a process that utilized market research, retail/hotel tax market analyses, and a branding analysis. Workgroup members were comprised of local residents, community advocates, business owners and enterpreneurs.
One of the group's recommendations was that economic development activities specifically be included in a city staff person's job description and as a budget line item as well. Councilmember Rick Kowalczyk expressed interest in bringing on an employee to work in this area full time.
"I have a concern because of our financial situation...I can't do it," Mayor Naomi Patridge said in reaction to Kowalczyk's suggestion.
"We need to provide social services to our community. I think we need to get there, but I don’t think the time is now," Patridge continued, who did voice support for spending the $6,000.
"I’ve already been bitten once, I’m not going to get bitten twice," she said. "To plunk out a big salary when we’re cutting people back...it just devastated me to ."
"You have to spend some money to make some money," said councilmember Marina Fraser.
But Fraser concurred with Patridge that the city should not bring on a full-time staff member at this time, as did Kowalczyk after a short discussion.
"Implementing a thoughtful branding strategy...would provide a fast and substantial investment," said workgroup member Charles Nelson, owner of Main Street shop .
"Our goal is to develop branding used consistently with the city, the , businesses, hotels, and restaurants," Nelson said. "We literally will be reading off the same page."
While $2,500 of the $6,000 cost would go towards the design of three logos from graphic designers, $500 would be spent on testing those logos. The remainder of the money would be allocated to producing graphic standards and a toolkit for the logo.
Members of the workgroup emphasized that both the branding and social media efforts would take little staff time. The Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce would play a managing role in developing a branding plan, while a volunteer social media committee comprised of local residents would take care of related tasks.
The social media effort centers around an active Half Moon Bay Facebook page that will encourage tourism and patronage of local businesses through deals, sales and specials. The page would be run by several volunteer administrators who would contribute frequent posts, said Deb Hershon, Coastside resident and workgroup member. The initial goal is to cultivate 100,000 "likes" on the page from fellow Facebook users.
"Creation of local jobs are critical to our economic development, but we need places to put those jobs," said resident Dave Worden, who presented workgroup recommendations in the land use and business retention category. Recommendations included having the city focus on developing key parcels of land, rezoning land to optimize job growth and coordinating efforts to educate developers, contractors and land owners on the city's development process.
Resident and independent municipal consultant Kendall Flint volunteered time to facilitate the workgroup's activities. Workgroup members also acknowledged the help of Flint's husband Steve Flint, director of the city's planning department, as well as Charise McHugh (Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce) and developer Keet Nerhan, who donated meeting space.