Students' marketing plans offer images for Scott Co.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Scott County may be at the crossroads of America, but it's barely on the Internet map.

Scott County Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said county officials want to change that situation and market the county and its tourist, industry and residential opportunities on the Web. "Every county needs to market itself," he said.

To that end, seven county officials and a Sikeston, Mo., tourism official heard presentations from three groups of Southeast Missouri State University marketing students at the school's Dempster Hall on Thursday afternoon.

The students, graduating seniors in university emeritus professor Charles Wiles' integrated marketing communications practicum class, have worked with Jim Schwaninger, Scott County economic developer, since January to make plans to promote the county and boost its image.

Hired through a state grant, Schwaninger, a former JCPenney executive and executive director for the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, has been on the job since October.

"We have an opportunity to start at ground zero and do something," he said.

Priggel said creating a Web site is a top priority for the county commission. "When we hired Jim, we wanted to get a Web site going," he said.

"I think that will wind up paying its way in economic development," he said.

Schwaninger said he hopes the county will have a Web site in place within six months. Sheriff Bill Ferrell has a Web site, but the county itself doesn't have an official Web site.

Wiles said people increasingly are using Web sites as primary research tools in deciding where to live and work.

All three student groups recommended county officials set up a professional Web site and market the Web site and its logo on everything from billboards to newspaper and magazine ads.

Schwaninger said he and county officials plan to review detailed written proposals from the students and "cherry pick" any suggestions that they like.

One group suggested "Scott County, Mo., Where We'll Treat You as Family," with the outline of a family walking across the outline of the county. Students in that group touted the county's friendly family environment, low taxes and low-cost utilities.

Students said a Web site could cost the county $120 a month to maintain.

"This is going to be your biggest cost," said student Michael Dudek.

A second group suggested "Friendly Faces, Exceptional Places: Discover Scott County, Mo." The logo includes a tree.

"We put the tree in there because we think Scott County is a growing community," said student Sara Morris.

A third group of students pitched "Crossroads of Opportunity, Scott County, Mo.," as a slogan.

"The crossroads of opportunity is a perfect fit for Scott County," said student Cherie Lewis whose group showed off the phrase as part of a green-and-black logo on everything from stationary to a coffee cup.

Her group suggested the county place the logo on four billboards along Interstate 55 at a cost of $19,200 a year.

Wiles said Scott County is in a good spot geographically. "It literally is where north meets south and east meets west and the Midwest meets the mid-south," he said. "I think it is sort of an interesting crossroads of culture."

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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