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Decatur’s present welcome sign is on the U.S. 31 causeway coming into Decatur.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Decatur’s present welcome sign is on the U.S. 31 causeway coming into Decatur.

The marketing
of Decatur

Firm expected to land 2nd $150,000 city contract; new welcome sign proposed

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com· 340-2442

The spotlight on Decatur’s recreational venues has city officials predicting a future so bright that residents and tourists will — as Timbuk 3’s 1986 hit song says — have to wear shades.

On Monday, the City Council is expected to approve the second $150,000 marketing contract in as many years with local firm McWhorter Communications to further boost the city’s recreational image and streamline access to City Hall.

“Why stop now?” Councilman Gary Hammon said, when asked if he supports the expenditure. Hammon is the Point Mallard park liaison.

Councilman David Bolding said Jeff Dunlap, director of Parks and Recreation, came to him two years ago with the idea of hiring a marketing firm.

McWhorter developed and then Nov. 12, debuted the city’s newest Web site, www.decatu ralabamausa.com, which Bolding said is paying dividends by uniting all the city’s venues into one package accessible with a few Internet keystrokes.

“There’s so much in marketing that we didn’t have in the past that is really impressive,” Bolding said. “We know the hotel, restaurant and retail industry will benefit. We’re looking to schedule events that are really eye-opening.”

McWhorter Communications executives are proposing a stone structure rising from the Tennessee River’s reservoir adjacent to Hospitality Park for the new welcome sign.
Daily graphic photo
McWhorter Communications executives are proposing a stone structure rising from the Tennessee River’s reservoir adjacent to Hospitality Park for the new welcome sign.
Lynn Temple, vice president at McWhorter, said the firm’s goal is to keep modifying the city’s Web site to make navigation easier from the home page to information within.

“One of the big pieces ... is marketing and potential revenue for the city,” Temple said. “We’re also working on a sports-marketing Web site to assist the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Parks and Recreation Department in recruiting tournaments and events. It’s going to be a one-stop resource for site capacity and seating.”

Funding for the contract could come from lodging taxes and/or the General Fund, Council President Billy Jackson said.

“I think overall the impact of what we’re doing with McWhorter is that the amount we spend with them will pale in comparison to the amount of revenue it will generate for the city,” Jackson said.

The contract includes the logo development for up to five city departments, photography and brochures. Sara Page, a McWhorter spokeswoman, said the firm finished the Parks and Recreation logo and is working on sports marketing for the soccer facility at Jack Allen Recreational Complex.

The Jack Allen brochure highlights 11 laser-graded fields with certified sports turf, computerized irrigation, television-quality lighting and Internet access.

“I think we’re well on our way to making Decatur a recreational destination,” Bolding said. “We’re getting a lot of hits from all over the country on our Web site.”

Jonathan Moral, an account executive with McWhorter, tracked the number of visitors to the city’s Web site, finding an average of more than 200 hits per day since Dec. 23.

Of the 22,648 viewed pages during that time, the majority of clicks sought more information on city departments, but Moral said he’d be able to better determine trends after the first quarter of this year.

The most hits, 981, came from California, but Moral said that’s where major Internet search engines Google and Yahoo! are based.

“We had 550 visitors from Alabama, 438 from Virginia, 281 were unknown and 154 from Georgia,” Moral said, noting the remaining top 10 were from Florida, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey and Utah.

“I would expect the number of hits from Virginia would be related to the Pentagon’s base realignment program,” said Decatur Mayor Don Kyle of the flood of potential residents coming to Decatur to work at Redstone Arsenal.

McWhorter Communications designed vehicle tags with Decatur’s new slogan.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
McWhorter Communications designed vehicle tags with Decatur’s new slogan.
Kyle said he expects more from McWhorter in the future.

“I think we’re expecting them to do more to earn the new commitment of money,” he said. “We have upgrades ready to meet with banks to take credit cards for various payments of sorts for tournament registrations, permits and other fees online.”

McWhorter executives are proposing a new welcome sign for the U.S. 31 causeway.

The stone structure would complement similar monuments being constructed at the city’s 22 parks. McWhorter envisioned the monument rising from the Tennessee River’s reservoir adjacent to Hospitality Park, but the Tennessee Valley Authority would have to approve that site.

McWhorter also designed and printed 125 car tags with the city’s new slogan, “Decatur: A Grand City on a Charming Scale.”

Kyle said his intention is to mount the tags on city vehicles and make them available for purchase at Point Mallard’s golf and tennis shops.

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