With a challenge delivered to rebrand and enhance the image of Americus and Sumter County from donors and investors, One Sumter has taken a multi-pronged approach to the task. Launching a comprehensive rebranding effort, supported by the One Sumter Marketing & Communications Strategy Team, One Sumter and its partners, led by community. Working through six months of deliberation, the Strategy Team determined to undertake an ambitious plan to create a collective brand for the community, build a stock photography library from scratch, shoot dynamic videography and aerial photography to support the new brand campaign, establish corresponding graphic design elements, and broadcast the new image and message of “Georgia’s Sumter County” nationwide through the expertise of a media relations firm.
Leveraging talent and expertise from across the Southeast, One Sumter, the Sumter County Tourism Council, Americus Main Street, and the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce launched the brand in June 2017. In total, One Sumter has allocated $140,000 to the rebranding campaign, while the City of Americus ambitiously matched the effort with its own investment reflecting upwards of $54,000 in marketing dollars. The expertise behind the campaign is detailed below:
- Tripp Muldrow and Shawn Terpack, Arnett Muldrow & Associates (Greenville, SC)
- Matt Odom, Matt Odom Photography (Macon, GA)
- Horace Braswell, Codec (Macon, GA)
- Laurie Rowe, Laurie Rowe Communications (Panama City, FL)
- Nick Rizkalla, Vantage Views, LLC (Macon, GA)
- Terry Ambrose, Terry Tilley Designs (Atlanta, GA)
Another approach to rebranding the image of Americus and Sumter County lies within the civic pride of a place and the quality of life felt by residents who live here and visitors who travel to attend special events, programs, and festivals. With that in mind, the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce established its new Special Events Division in 2016, hosting the holiday favorite, “Sumter on Ice” throughout the month of December. Other new events have contributed to the increased synergy and sense of pride throughout Sumter County: Plains, Trains & Fireworks; Hot Glass Craft Beer; First Fridays in Downtown Americus; Party at the Park; Back to School Bash; DeSoto’s Fall Reunion; and DeSoto’s Independence Day Fireworks Celebration; as well as a renewed emphasis on long-held community favorites – Andersonville Historic Fair, Plains Peanut Festival, Taste of Sumter, and Leslie’s Annual Dogwood Antique Show.
The third prong to the rebranding initiative centers around strengthening relationships among business and industry partners with our local and state officials. With the creation of the Chamber’s new Governmental Affairs Division, the business community now interfaces with City and County officials on a monthly basis, and has plans to engage our legislative delegation at three signature events to be announced later this Fall.
The best and earliest example of fulfilling this priority of One Sumter’s Business Action Plan came in April 2017 when the Chamber hosted the first annual State of Community Breakfast. Sponsored y One Sumter and AT&T, the Chamber was able to bring Georgia Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Chris Clark to Sumter County to highlight business and economic trends for Sumter County over the next 13 years. Clark’s remarks were a call to arms for the leadership of Sumter County emphasizing the need to focus on workforce development, diversity and inclusivity, and talent development. The event concluded with a distinguished local panel who discussed upcoming projects and priorities for their respective organizations. Panelists were Sumter County Administrator Bill, Twomey, Americus City Manager Steve Kennedy, and Sumter County Development Authority Executive Director Barbara Grogan.
The fourth and final strategy for enhancing the image of Americus and Sumter County is hallmarked by local law enforcement’s efforts to address the safety and public welfare of residents, businesses and visitors to our community. Convened by Americus Police Chief Mark Scott for the first Criminal Justice and Public Safety Forum in March 2017, over 30 strategic stake holders were present, including representatives from the following organizations: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms: U.S. Federal Attorneys Office; Georgia State Patrol; Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Sumter County Sheriff’s Office; City of Americus Police Department; Sumter County District Attorney’s Office; Judges from the Southwestern Judicial Circuit, Sumter County Juvenile Court, State Court; Department of Community Supervision; and Sumter County Probation Department, among others. Committed to meeting on a quarterly basis, One Sumter has had the distinct privilege of serving as the facilitator for their ongoing efforts.
With regional partnerships as a focus of One Sumter’s economic development efforts, the foundation serves in a pivotal role for the 21-County regional leadership development initiative, Locate South GeorgiaLEADS (LSGL). As the entity responsible for coordinating the eight-month leadership experience, One Sumter is establishing partnerships across the region, and state, to tell the stories of South Georgia and leveraging the resources of the University of Georgia to instill critical leadership competencies to strengthen the leadership base of the region now and in the years to come.
A collaborative of Locate South Georgia, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, LSGL is the state’s largest regional leadership program representing some 21 Countyies across South Georgia. LSGL is designed to facilitate awareness of issues that are essential to the future success of the region by giving participants the necessary skills and training needed to effectively lead South Georgia in the 21st Century economy.
Graduating a class of 32 leaders in march of this year, the program is moving foward aggressively with another cohort of 34 business and civic leaders to engage in the leadership experience yet again, starting in August 2017. With a foundation of the 21 economic developers that make up Locate South Georgia, plus some 10 or so affiliates that make up the economic development collaborative – coupled with the inagural class of 32 and the next cohort of 34 – LSGL has already netted 100 individuals in just three years driving the economic message of South Georgia at every opportunity.
LSGL links regional site visits and issue awareness to relevant leadership development content within the framework of the Locate South GeorgiaLEADS priorities.
The purpose of Locate South GeorgiaLEADS is to develop informed, aware, and educated leaders to promote and grow South Georgia by:
- Increasing awareness of assets and resources;
- Creating a shared sense of regional pride and ownership in both action and solutions;
- Strengthening partnerships and alliances and
- Enhancing political influence and acuity to support the needs and opportunities of South Georgia.
“Improving retail sales in the Sumter County area…”
In a response to stated needs of Sumter County’s law enforcement community, One Sumter has committed to investing $45,000towards the purchase of a K-9 drug and tracking search dog, related training for an officer to serve as the K-9 handler, and equipped SUV to accommodate K-9 transport.
“Enhancing downtown redevelopment…”