Members of Killeen Town Council – at least for now – turned down Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Connell when he asked the town to help fund the development of a brand strategy for the region.
“I agree with some members of the council,” Councilor Jose Segarra said. “The overall plan – part of it – was selling it to our citizens, trying to change the image. I would love to see money like this go into our town center and be spent on things the council has done recently with some of our older buildings.
In November 2020, City Council agreed to pay Verdunity $349,140 to develop the 2022 Comprehensive Plan which was adopted in August.
‘I can’t control this’
“Normally I’m always in favor of something like this to speak positively about the city,” Segarra said. “I know, over the years we’ve done things like that. There are many ways to get this message across. The challenge is sometimes the media. We cannot control this. For every negative story, you need about 20 positive stories to counter that, and that’s always been our challenge.
In a presentation on how the Killeen Chamber plans to work with Killeen, Harker Heights, Cooperas Cove, Nolanville and the Fort Hood Regional Economic Development Foundation, Daniel Hall said he wanted to create a “proactive strategy that responds to what I believe is a well-recognized community need.
Hall is a Principal Consultant at Hall Development Solutions.
“We need to tell the positive story of the place we all call home,” he said. “Over the past few months, I have had the good fortune to speak with many of you about the need for positive public perception in this proposed strategy.
This strategy, according to the presentation, is simply to stimulate public perception.
“The external and internal perception of our region is one of the greatest obstacles to economic growth. Our out-of-town customers don’t understand the incredible untapped potential here. Killeen is a great place. We just need to do a better job of showing people that greatness.
The five-year strategy would require $160,000 from Killeen, $100,000 from the Fort Hood Regional Economic Development Foundation, $40,000 each from Copperas Cove and Harker Heights and $10,000 from Nolanville, as well as creating task forces for each entity . In Killeen, the task force would consist of eight people.
“It’s not about Killeen being a negative place, having negative attributes, having bad habits,” Hall said. “It’s about working together to redefine who we are and to tell that story, to share the strengths, the attributes, the strengths of this place we call home.”
Each working group, Hall said, would be responsible for:
Provide feedback and guidance to consultants on each phase of the process.
Build consensus and make decisions on brand development and deployment.
Help develop, understand and support the ideas behind the eventual logo and slogan.
Adopt brand elements for use in cardholder messaging.
Help create brand understanding and buy-in.
And develop strategies that “unite and inspire” community brand adoption.
“The key thing is that this is a multi-year engagement process,” Connell said. “It’s at the beginning of the phases. It’s a well-thought-out process of researching the market, developing creative materials in the process, implementing…and actually understanding how we can measure and sustain that process.
Connell, the former vice president of Temple Economic Development Corporation, became president and chief economic development officer of Killeen on September 1.
“Leading the Commitment”
“What we’re hoping to do in this process, too, is to engage all of the partners that are helping to fund the process to really spearhead that engagement with a potential consulting firm that can find ways to implement this process.”
Connell said Chamber of Commerce staff act “as staff on behalf of the foundation.”
“This is meant to be a regional concept, not just Killeen,” he said. “It’s an ongoing storyline and one that also adapts over time. As things change in the community, we have new scenarios or things that can build on top of that.
“Redefining who we are”
According to the presentation, the “critical point of contact for any branding activity in the future” would include a target audience and the geographic context of the community,
“We’re working on fundraising for the (14 Forward) campaign, which is the economic development foundation’s new work point,” Hall said. “Part of the resources that we will collect for this campaign will be allocated to this strategy. But the big motivation here – perhaps too idealistic – is to redefine who we are as a region.
Councilwoman Jessica Gonzalez said she liked the strategy but was still worried about it.
“I think it’s essential, this type of branding. Without a vision, people will perish. Defining this for our city and controlling our narrative has been something important to me since the beginning of my stay here. My concern, however, is the process of that branding and marketing.
Mayor Debbie Nash-King agreed.
“My philosophy is, ‘How can you sell something you don’t believe in?’ Branding is great When we can get other nearby towns on board…we all come together as a united front What we want is change The people want change What we do not work.”
‘A lot of negativity’
And because this proposed brand strategy is about public perception and improving it — real and otherwise — it tempted the Herald.
“We’re battling a lot of negativity,” she said. “I’m not the newspaper or anyone. Well, a little. I don’t know all that. But that’s not the point. We have to change our own image. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. They can only write what is produced. So how can we change that? »
In an email, Connell said the Fort Hood Regional Economic Development Foundation is planning its 2023-27 “five-year effort.”
“Economic development is a very competitive process. Thousands of regions across the country are competing for new jobs and investments. It is important that we tell how businesses can take advantage of our region’s resources and how community assets can support their industry.
The foundation, Connell said, was created “to engage businesses, individuals and others to support the economic endeavors of the Killeen area. It is a leader in major efforts to advance the community in long-term growth opportunities – including the Texas A&M-Central Texas Research Park.
But Councilman Michael Boyd, who requested the presentation, said he was disappointed.
“Not what I expected”
“It hasn’t been done before,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting. “But I will be frank here. The presentation is not what I expected. I expected more for you to sell this, to really qualify it. I think it requires more homework. I think it has to go through Killeen EDC. It needs to be tweaked. »
Councilor Nina Cobb, Gonzalez and Nash-King represent City Council on the Killeen EDC Board.
“I don’t think it was something that started here,” Segarra said. “I think it should have started with KEDC. It’s something that just happened. Based on what’s been presented today – ask and maybe receive – I don’t think that’s the direction I’d like to see.
Cobb said she — and her constituents — are tired of the planning.
“It sounds like a great idea, and I know we need marketing. But I think maybe we should go through EDC and look at that and expand it to the whole community. People are tired of talking. They need to see something. The textbooks, the books, the trails, all those glowing conversations, voters want to see what’s going to happen downtown. It’s time to act.
Hall said he agreed, but couldn’t promise that “your potential investment will result in 1,000 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment.”
“The first major expense we would incur with this strategy would be to hire a consultant,” he said. “It’s about an estimated cost of $125,000. The resources we seek from the city will not be explicitly used to hire the consultant (but) used to support this. »
Following a leadership motion from Segarra for Hall and Connell to submit their request to the Killeen EDC Board of Directors, it was seconded by Councilor Ken Wilkerson and approved, 5-2, with Councilors Ramon Alvarez and Riakos Adams in the opposition.