At their meeting last week, the Benbrook Economic Development Corporation discussed a number of items, chief among them the impending expansion of 377. The possibility of retaining a public relations firm to assist in business retention during the 377 expansion was the subject of their discussion. This is something that some members of the EDC brought up at the June meeting and has since been further investigated by city staff.
EDC Executive Director Ron Rainey summarized some of the thoughts that were brought up at that June meeting.
“Get ahead of the curve and to work with our local businesses to let them know what projects are going to be taking place as we widen and improve 377, but also how we might encourage them to work with their customers to encourage them to keep shopping in Benbrook, take that extra two minutes to shop here instead of bypassing us to go to Fort Worth or neighboring towns,” Rainey said.
Following up on that direction, staff got into contact with a firm called L COMM Marketing. The president of that company, Lydia Rickard, was on hand at the meeting and addressed the EDC.
Rickard gave the board a rundown of her qualifications, listing clients her company has worked with like General Motors, Texas Wesleyan Law University, and the TCU football program.
One tactic Rickard said they’d likely implement if working with Benbrook is to set up public forums targeted at businesses along 377. Other possible ways discussed of keeping people informed about the 377 expansion were a website, direct mailers, and a newsletter.
Rickard said her company would conduct research so they can understand how to relate to Benbrook consumers who may be tempted not to shop along 377 due to the construction.
“What’s going to make them stop here along 377 to use the same business they’ve been using?” Rickard asked.
For the first year of these and other services such as design work, L COMM Marketing would charge a little over $69,000. Moving into a second year, the cost would lower and become a little over $56,000.
Board member David Hafer suggested giving businesses along 377 a chance to come up with coupons or other incentives to encourage people to keep shopping there during the construction.
“I’m very pleased with what Mrs. Rickard has done so far,” Hafer said. “I believe that this is the direction we need to be going.”
Hafer than suggested that bringing on a public relations firm should be added as an action item for their next meeting.
Board member Dwayne Hitt agreed that it was a good presentation, and spoke about the businesses along 377.
“I think it’s going to be important for us as a board to look for opportunities to help these people out,” Hitt said.
Hitt said they could possibly even look at helping the businesses economically, with things like temporary signage or other general concessions or assistance mentioned as options.
Since this was not an action item, there were no motions made on this matter. From the comments made by board members, it does appear that this is something they’ll pursue further at their August meeting.