In recognition of Maryland Economic Development Week – September 30-October 4 – the Dorchester County Council today adopted a resolution highlighting investments in economic development partnerships that strengthen Dorchester’s competitiveness. To mark the statewide designation, Dorchester County Economic Development (DCED) Director Keasha Haythe unveiled “water moves us” — DCED’s new marketing initiative and identity — and announced a cooperative branding campaign with the County’s Tourism Department and Chamber of Commerce.
In designating Dorchester Economic Development Week, Council President Jay Newcomb said, “Our community reaps the benefits every day of proactive economic development partnerships. It’s fitting that we take time during this statewide celebration to recognize economic development strategies that strengthen and support businesses.” Newcomb pointed to the opening of Realerevival Brewery, aided by a $200K UMES Rural Development loan, the Hooper Island Oyster Company processing facility renovation, and Protenergy’s acquisition and expansion, as three of many business start-ups and expansions fueled by economic development programs and partnerships.
Distributing water bottles wrapped with the “water moves us” logo, Haythe thanked the Council for providing the resources to implement the county’s strategic plan. “More than a logo or a tagline, branding unifies and strengthens our economic development marketing efforts,” she said, “it gives us a solid foundation to build clear, consistent and compelling messages to communicate our many assets.”
Developed by DCED, “water moves us” serves as the department’s new brand identity as well as a multi-platform, cooperative marketing campaign to promote Dorchester’s assets and opportunities. The word mark, logo and creative executions emphasize stories of innovation and industry against a backdrop evoking Dorchester’s beautiful environment and water-shaped landscape. The brand will be the platform for all DCED communications including digital/website, display, public relations, advertising, printed materials, outreach, exhibits, and events.
Councilman Ricky Travers, a member of Dorchester’s Economic Development Advisory Council (EDAC), lauded the creative identity and message saying, “Dorchester County’s landscape defines not only where, but who we are. Shaped and surrounded by water, our community reflects the character of everyone who lives, works or visits this place of incomparable beauty.” Travers further stated that he believes ‘water moves us’ will strengthen Dorchester’s visibility by leveraging promotional resources.
Work on the marketing initiative was launched as soon as the EDAC and County Council approved DCED’s strategic plan in January 2013. The office retained Andrea Vernot, a Dorchester business owner and resident, and Saundra Jones of Baltimore’s CircleSquare LLC to develop the brand identity and strategy. Vernot, President of Choptank Communications, orchestrated the award-winning “Maryland of Opportunity” campaign while Assistant Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development. “It was a personal and professional privilege to work with the community on this project,” she said, “water moves us’ symbolizes how people feel about Dorchester; it captures resident pride, embraces visitor appreciation, and reinforces the positive and critical position the landscape plays in our economy and culture.”
While unveiling posters portraying the new logo and examples of the types of creative executions people will soon see, Haythe recognized Amanda Fenstermaker and Deborah Divins of the Tourism Office and Chamber of Commerce respectively for their support of the marketing initiative. Haythe explained that Fenstermaker and Divins have joined her as co-chairs of the BEST (Brand Execution Strategies & Tactics) Committee that will help identify and implement ongoing campaign promotional activities.
Fenstermaker, a member of the EDAC and Director of Dorchester County Tourism and Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area, is confident their cooperative marketing efforts will help Dorchester stand out and apart from the Eastern Shore by reinforcing a consistent creative platform. “We are truly stronger together. This brand is perfectly aligned with our visitor marketing and will build our reputation as a premiere destination.”
They also unveiled a shared website – www.WaterMovesUs.com – that will serve as the campaign’s portal with information and links to each organization. “I applaud the County’s economic development office for spearheading an inclusive and thoughtful process that sought community input and provided a forum for diverse ideas,” said Divins. She further added that she had participated in the planning forums and that the new brand very much reflected the insight, challenges and opportunities expressed in the stakeholder meetings.
Haythe, Vice President of the Maryland Economic Development Association’s board of directors, was particularly pleased to introduce the marketing initiative during the 3rd annual Economic Development Week. “Water moves us reinforces Dorchester’s geographic, cultural and economic connection to water,” she said, adding, “that it builds on DCED’s previous campaign (Water is our edge) while ‘communicating stories of talent, opportunity and success.”