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3/23/2003

LAEC on mission to tout city’s positives

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — On the plus side, there — on the front of Friday’s “B” section of the Wall Street Journal — was a huge satellite image of Baghdad. Its remarkable detail was provided by Longmont’s own DigitalGlobe, a company whose QuickBird satellite produces the highest-resolution commercial imaging in the world.

Unfortunately, the copy that accompanies the satellite image refers to “DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Calif.”

As Homer Simpson might say, “D’oh!”

Does Longmont have an “image” problem?

The business climate here has a lot of positives going for it. Companies that have already located here — Amgen, Seagate and the like — already recognize this, but landing more of these kinds of companies — our next DigitalGlobe — requires casting a wide net, especially in the current economic climate. Such is the strategy behind a beefed-up marketing campaign recently launched by the Longmont Area Economic Council.

“I try to do as much of this stuff as I can, but we need somebody out there who’s hawking us,” said John Cody, president and CEO of the LAEC.

The LAEC has hired Denver-based public relations firm Strategic Advantage Inc. to raise the awareness of the organization — specifically in areas from which Longmont has drawn most of its businesses for the past decade.

“From a geographic standpoint, we know what our targets are. They are this area, Boulder and Silicon Valley,” said Cody.

He said 40 percent of this area’s new businesses were started here, although they are not all of the classic start-from-scratch variety.

“That’s predominantly serial entrepreneurs,” said Cody. “The entrepreneurial community in Boulder County is very strong.”

Another 29 percent of new companies have moved here from Boulder, 13 percent are from Silicon Valley and the remaining 18 percent are from “the rest of the world,” as Cody put it.

“The fact that (Strategic) had done some work (in Silicon Valley) was a consideration,” said Cody.

One part of Strategic’s plan is to increase Longmont’s exposure through Denver media outlets — particularly business publications and the daily newspapers. A company in, say, Silicon Valley would be likely to read these publications if it was considering a move to Colorado, said Cody.

“We’re hitting the ground running,” said Doyle Albee, executive vice president for Strategic and the lead person on the LAEC’s account for the six-person agency.

Four weeks into the campaign, he said he’s been busy reviewing all phases of the LAEC’s marketing efforts, and he’s been contacting press throughout the Denver metro area to set up meetings with Cody.

He said his work is made easier by the fact that some things — the LAEC logo, for instance — won’t need to be changed.

“They’re doing some things very, very well. There’s just some things that they could be doing that are out of their current staff’s expertise,” Albee said. “To come in and fix what isn’t broken isn’t the best use of the supporters’ funds.”

The LAEC’s paid staff consists of just three people.

Last fall, the LAEC announced plans to raise $50,000 each of the next three years, with the money going entirely to recruiting new businesses to the Longmont area. As of late last week, $43,290 had been pledged. Some of these funds have been used to hire Strategic Advantage, Cody said.

Albee said he’s familiar with Longmont from the days he used to work here as worldwide communications director for Maxtor.

“We’re excited to be working with Longmont,” Albee said. “We think they have a great team in place, and we’re just excited to be joining that team.”

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.