The Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA), at its first meeting of the year on Thursday, Jan. 24, adopted a budget for 2019 – providing notice of the strategies the group will use in its attempt to bring more business to the county this year.
The numbers show that a big part of that effort will be a continued attempt to improve the name recognition and the image of Guilford County as a place for businesses to expand and relocate.
GCEDA is made up of elected officials, city and county managers, economic development professionals and representatives of local organizations that have the stated purpose of increasing economic activity in the area.
Each year, the alliance gets $100,000 from each of its three founding local governments: Greensboro, High Point and Guilford County. In 2019, GCEDA began the year with just over $103,000 in the bank; so the new funding gives it a balance of more than $400,000 to work with over the course of the new calendar year.
By far, the largest item in the 2019 budget is $130,000 that GCEDA will pay to a public relations agency to help advance the county’s name recognition as well as increase the appeal of Guilford County in other ways. Ever since GCEDA was founded three years ago, this has been a point of emphasis for the group, which often argues that Guilford County and the cities in it do not nationally have the reputation they deserve as great places to live and locate a business.
Development Counselors International (DCI), a New York-based economic development marketing agency, will continue working with GCEDA to advance the image of Guilford County. DCI will do things like set up meetings in New York with site consultants and bring business journalists in to Guilford County to encourage them to spread the word to a national audience about the exciting things going on in the county.
The next biggest items in the budget, which was unanimously approved by the GCEDA leadership at the meeting, were $80,000 for professional services, $30,000 to cover travel costs to trade shows and cities with clusters of site consultants, $20,000 for a direct mail campaign and $20,000 for website enhancements.
Greensboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brent Christensen, who, along with High Point Economic Development Corp. (EDC) President Loren Hill, heads up the GCEDA staff, said GCEDA didn’t spend any money on travel in 2018 because those costs were covered by the two groups that he and Hill work for, but he added that $30,000 would be included in the 2019 GCEDA budget for that purpose.
“We did not spend any money on travel – for trade show and consultant visits [in 2018] – but we will in 2019,” Christensen said. “The majority of those travel and trade show visits were borne by either the High Point EDC or the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. We’re still coming up with a way to share those costs.”
He added that direct mail marketing would be increased over last year.
“We feel like we’ve been successful with direct mail,” Christensen said, adding that there have been tangible results from that effort, so it’s being doubled to $20,000 in the new budget over the $10,000 that was allocated and spent in 2018.
He said the 2019 budget continues the alliance’s relationship with DCI for now.
“The DCI contract expires, I think, in August,” he said. “I have budgeted to continue with that. We’re pleased with that.”
He added that, if it turns out the group isn’t pleased with DCI later in the year for some reason, the board could always decide not to renew that contract and “make another move.”
Christensen told the alliance members that the additional website funding would add video capabilities and other improvements to the alliance’s webpages.
The 2019 budget includes other expenses as well, such as $10,000 to cover conference fees, $10,000 for creating promotional videos, $1,000 to cover the cost of GCEDA’s monthly meetings and $250 for bank fees.