The Cobb Board of Commissioners will have a public hearing at their meeting today to receive public comment on a proposed plan to spend more than $100,000 to hire an outside consultant to develop a “marketing and branding strategy” for south Cobb, according to the meeting’s agenda.
The agenda item states one of the goals of the marketing campaign is “creating a new identity of south Cobb that will aid in altering the misconception of the area.” Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the area, addressed what those “misconceptions” might be.
“South Cobb does have some challenges with respect to older infrastructure and crime, but the popular opinion of south Cobb is that it is a homogeneous area and that it’s full of all things bad,” Cupid said. “And that certainly is not the instance.
“I’m not going to try to paint a perfect picture, which may not be accurate, but we have a lot of positive things, a lot of good things that are occurring here which need to be told. And I think that they represent the opportunities here and the direction of where this area is going,” she said.
Rob Hosack, the county’s community development director, said he hopes the campaign will highlight the work the county has done in the area in order to attract investors.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we can do to get the area ready for redevelopment, or ripe for redevelopment. But at the end of the day, if we make infrastructure improvements and we make improvements down there to the appearance of the community, we’re still going to have to have a way to get the word out,” he said.
State law requires a public hearing, Hosack added, because the county plans on spending more than $100,000 on the campaign.
Dana Johnson, deputy community development director, said the county has received proposals for the initiative, but before county staff can rank the proposals, the public hearing must be held. Contract negotiations will not take place until after the ranking has been complete, so county officials don’t yet know what the final cost of the campaign will be.
According to the agenda item, the commissioners authorized requests for proposals April 22.
County Chairman Tim Lee said the marketing campaign is one of 30 components of a plan called the South Cobb Work Program. Some of the other components include expanding opportunity and enterprise zones in the area and creating and managing a south Cobb community advisory council, which allows residents and business owners to get involved with the decision-making process for their area.
“It’s kind of not fair to just look at this one item by itself,” he said.
Lee said the county is looking for a firm with experience creating communication programs, which promote the positives of a community.
“With that said, we don’t know yet if that needs to be executed with billboards, TV ads, brochures, fliers, Facebook, tweets, whatever. That will all come out of the evaluation as to what the core of the issue is, what the target audience we’re trying to reach (is), what we want to say to them, … how do they usually receive their information and then, what’s it going to take to get that message across to motivate action,” he said.
Hosack described what he expects from the outside consultant.
“I think they would probably be laying out a strategy and a series of things for us to do. … Now, that’s not saying they won’t assist us with doing certain things. But I think the majority of the follow-through and the implementation will be done by the community,” he said, adding the implementation of the campaign will likely be done by a combination of community residents, local businesses and the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, as well as in-kind services from the county.