by Ruth Mancina for Tri-Cities Business Review
Thursday January 15, 2009, 6:25 AM
Bob Van Deventer knows change is never easy.
But the President and CEO of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is a patient man.
In a move to create an identity for the area as it vies for economic investment and tourist dollars, a group of business and community leaders from Midland, Bay and Saginaw counties, known as Vision TriCounty, developed the name Great Lakes Bay Region.
Now that the name has been unveiled, the real work begins, said Van Deventer, chairman of the Vision TriCounty board.
While several organizations - beginning with Vision Tri-County - are embracing the brand and using it, it will take time for it to become commonly used, he noted.
"It's going to be a lot of work and it's going to be a long-term process," he said.Vision Tri-County has changed its name to the Great Lakes Bay Alliance. Other economic and media entities are going to use the name as well, he said.
The website www.EverythingTriCities.com will become www.EverythingGreatLakesBay.com
The Tri-Cities Business Review and the MidMichigan Regional Business Expo also will adopt the Great Lakes Bay Region name and the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail will now be called the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail.
The name builds on the distinctive geographic features of our area, Van Deventer said, pointing out that it highlights and promotes the natural assets and beauty of the region, which was one of the area's strengths that were consistently mentioned when trying to develop the brand.
"There is a perception that we are part of the Rust Belt with smokestacks and factories and we wanted to promote our great natural assets," he said.
The tagline that goes with the brand is "Where Innovation Flows", which also helps to convey the message that the industry and economic development occurring in the region is knowledge based and not strictly blue collar, he said.
One of the reasons for developing the brand was to stress the attractions of not just one county, but all three, said Jill Rykert, Global Strategic Marketer for Dow Corning Corporation who worked on the project.
"Each county brings something unique to the table, and together we are stronger than we are when we act individually," she said.
Focusing on the strong educational assets of the area and the ability to provide skilled workers to potential employers is critical, she added.
The new name also helps to stress quality of life issues that are here and not always promoted as much as they could be, Rykert said.
"If we need to attract skills from outside the region our quality of life characteristics, such as our natural resources or health care capabilities become important selling points," she said.
As more and more organizations, businesses and the media use Great Lakes Bay Region in their press releases, promotional pieces and articles, the identity will be created and can eventually become known throughout the country, similar to the name Silicon Valley, Van Deventer said.
"We want organizations and businesses to live the brand so to speak," he said.Rykert agrees that the way to make the brand a part of everyday life is to bring it to life.
"We bring it to life through promoting examples that leverage the assets of each county into the core brand, but that requires some planning," she said. "The next step for the committee is to complete that plan and implement it. We have much to communicate about the uniqueness of the Great Lakes Bay Region."
Ruth Mancina is a freelance writer.