On Tuesday evening, the Board of Commissioners unanimously authorized the county to accept requests for competitive bids from experienced consultants, who will develop a marketing and branding campaign for south Cobb.
The strategic plan is an economic development push to market the southern portion of Cobb to businesses and developers.
The effort will be mostly led by the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority and managed by the Cobb County Community Development Authority.
Chairman Tim Lee said the marketing initiative will be financed through state and local funding, with some money coming from the county’s general fund.
“They are also looking for grant money,” Lee said.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid said there has been money allocated to the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority for this effort, so additional funds from the county will not be needed for the hiring of the consultant.
Proposals from professional consultants will be accepted until May 22. The applications should include a statement of goals with a detailed approach to the project, including a schedule, hours required to complete each task, a cost breakdown and the availability of key staff to complete the work.
Instead of using existing county community development staff, Lee said the “new type of effort” required hiring an outside consultant for the specialized project.
“Their expertise in not really communications per se, as a marketing tool,” Lee said. “We want to make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck.”
Cupid agreed with Lee.
“We have a sense from living here,” she said, but the boost of attention from an outside agency will pinpoint what concerns need to be addressed.
One item outlined by staff includes designing a logo to be used in marketing materials online, in print and outdoors on “themed directional signage.”
Another is monument signage for placement at gateway points.
The South Cobb Redevelopment Authority has created a selection committee to recommend the top-ranked firm to the Board of Commissioners.
“The South Cobb Redevelopment Authority reserves the right to reject any and all proposals, to waive any informalities, reject portions of the proposals, waive technicalities and award contracts,” according to a packet of information presented by staff to the commissioners.
The yearlong contract is expected to be rewarded in June, with possible renewals in 12 month increments.
The implementation of the plan will be monitored in the short-term (1 to 2 years), mid-term (3 to 5 years) and long-term (6 or more years).
Rebranding false perceptions
The consultants hired will gather input from Cobb County schools, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Cobb Travel and Tourism, business associations and local governing boards.
“I think it has been recognized south Cobb needs some unique attention to overcome some of its challenges, both real and misperceived,” Cupid said. “From what I read, this could potentially be a first phase of other projects.”
The South Cobb Redevelopment Authority has identified three specific spots for development, including the space near Six Flags Over Georgia, Mableton and the River Line historic area, which lies west of the Chattahoochee River.
State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) said the Six Flags corridor faces a number of challenges as a transient area located directly off Interstate 20.
But Wilkerson sees a large benefit in the amount of business investment in the area, including Six Flags’ expansion, which will include a new water park, and the addition of the Riverside EpiCenter, a 112,000 square-foot community center.
Wilkerson said Mableton has already benefited from economic development efforts, often led by community groups like the Mableton Coalition.
“I think you have seen a lot of effort put into that area,” Wilkerson said about the growing number of “upwardly mobile young professionals” and the building blocks already in place.
According to the packet of information presented by staff to the commissioners on Tuesday, a “new identity for south Cobb will aid in altering the misconceptions of the area.”
Wilkerson said hiring a marketing firm is a good decision by the commissioners because south Cobb should be showcased to potential businesses in an effort to raise property values and increase tax money for the area.
“You want the whole county to have a great reputation,” Wilkerson said.
Part of those misconceptions, according to Wilkerson, is the idea that south Cobb residents are stuck in their neighborhoods due to a lack of economic opportunities.
He said young professionals are choosing to work and live in south Cobb, especially for its proximity to both Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and downtown Atlanta.
“South Cobb has potential to be a place where you can start your young career,” Wilkerson said.
Part of the marketing push will include a “slogan to change the perception of south Cobb into one that is more suitable for a family community,” according to report presented to commissioners Tuesday.
The new branding should frame south Cobb as “a place where you can begin your family and where you can spend your whole life,” Wilkerson said, from purchasing a first home to retirement.