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Branding committee seeks to build Rushford's identity


Wed, Jan 26th, 2011
Posted in Progress Edition



"To creatively establish a unique community identity, promote a welcoming environment for visitors and prompt new residents and businesses to locate to a 'captivating Rushford'." - Rushford Area Branding Committee mission statement

What's in a brand? Apparently more than one might realize. Author Roy H. Williams, a renowned marketing consultant, calls branding "the sum of mental associations, good and bad, that are triggered by a name." According to Williams, it's about the message.

In Rushford, a handful of willing and eager people are working diligently to showcase the town's message. They're jumping off from information gathered following the catastrophic flood of 2007: a 75-page presentation by the Minnesota Design Team in April of 2008, which highlights public surveys and several design concepts for the community, and a 2009 assessment from Destination Development, Inc., founder and world-renowned community-branding expert, Robert Brooks. These documents, the committee's in-depth analysis, and local input are building blocks in the foundation of Rushford's future brand.

Spearheaded by Doug Botcher as chairman, the committee of eight doesn't want to be confused with a tourism board. Certainly one of the goals is to bring visitors and revenue to the community, but in the long term, the committee is striving to find a way to encourage and enhance the existing commerce and natural beauty of the town in addition to new ventures.

Just beginning the fourth year of recovery following the flood, Rushford is proud of its community spirit, top-notch educational system, facilities and resources, and its residents. Surrounded by an unmatched natural beauty, people are already drawn to the community. What it's seeking is an investment in the future, not simply revenue and faster growth, but vision and substance for a flourishing, vibrant community.

The group knows that progress itself may have its own metal association, one that is sometimes related to the idea of upsetting the comfort of "home." Keenly aware of the town's rich history and the values represented here, they are seeking to utilize creativity without sacrificing the core of the community.

"Creating a unique identity, drawing new people and business to Rushford, does not mean we are going to give up Rushford's beautiful, small community appeal," says committee Vice Chair Peggi Redalen. "It means that we can creatively craft and direct our community to make it better."

Also central to the RushfordABC is the fostering of cooperation and communication. "When settlers first came to this area and founded the community of Rushford, they didn't say, 'Okay, that's enough people and businesses now. We have all we need,'" says Redalen. "Now, more than ever we need to remember and endorse the same founding positive ambition and cooperation. Accomplishing community vitality depends upon everyone's involvement. You cannot wait for 'someone' to do it. Your strengths and ideas are needed in this process. 'You' are it."

Fellow committee member Valencia Gaddis agrees. "The way I see it, the Rushford area is a big garden waiting for something to grow and 'bloom' on it. While a few folks have spent a great deal of time in the past working the 'soil,' the rest of the community went about their business expecting someone else to make it flourish. The Branding Committee's job is to develop a 'soil conditioner,' - a unique theme that identifies Rushford as a great place to visit, to live and to build - a theme that enriches the community for its own residents as much as for our visitors. Call it a 'Garden Party' if you will, but this time everyone has a hand in how it 'blooms.'"

The committee members have a sincerely vested interest in both business and the community as a whole. Seven of the eight members are both residents and owners of businesses in town.

Botcher is owner and proprietor of Meadows Inn Bed & Breakfast and has lived in Rushford for 11 years. Vice Chair Peggi Redalen, born and raised in the community, is a landscape designer and owner of Elements of Design.

Terri Benson is the Executive Coordinator for the Rushford Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as secretary and treasurer for Rushford ABC. Valencia Gaddis, owns and operates SonSations Business Services and is highly active in area events and groups.

Lori Hungerholt recently moved back to Rushford and operates a sewing and embroidery business. Daughter Nikikdra Hungerholt also recently returned home and is looking forward to bringing a young person's perspective to the Branding Committee.

Kevin Klungtvedt is chairman of the board for the Rushford Institute of Nanotechnology and founder of Rushford NanoElectroChemistry Company. Terry Lesser, owns and operates Rush Creek, LTD.

The Rushford Area Branding Committee welcomes community input throughout this process. Meetings are open to the public and positive, constructive ideas are always appreciated. Follow communication of progress through committee's the website, www.rushfordabc.org

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