Sumter County, Georgia Rolls Out Creative Economic Development Initiatives

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Understanding who we are and why we’re special has stumped civilizations for eons of time.

That could change with the branding model launched in June, 2017, in Sumter County, Georgia and immediately weaving its way into tourism and other economic development planning.

The concept, unveiled in Plains by the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, applies lyrical language to practical facts to guide the future.

“This provides a toolbox giving depth and perspective to conversations about community assets,” said Executive Director Mary Beth Bass. “And it does more.

“Inspiring, often poetic, language in the branding document points to specific, well-documented and distinctive traits about Sumter County—historic and modern day,” Bass noted.

She pinpointed homegrown and world renown as key Sumter descriptions now receiving specific, factual understanding.

Descriptive details in the branding toolbox reflect familiar community images:

  • Bountiful land with rolling fields and piney woods
  • Ripples along the water
  • Sacred spaces
  • Small towns and an historic city

Then, Bass points out, details undergird such imagery and also conclusions like this written in the branding document: In Sumter County, we do more than cultivate the land. Dreams dreamt here are much bigger than this place.

Travelers seeking authentic experiences along with charm and ambience will grasp these new branding concepts says Director of Tourism for the City of Americus Nicole Kirksey.

“We can now tell the solid stories of our history with a flourish based on fact, and wrap the new visitor experiences with clear connections to the past.  Tourism will be showing visitors in present time the ways the past mattered here, and we’ll be demonstrating our visions moving toward the future.”

Sizzle describes some of the immediate tourism projects already launched to connect visitors and residents to distinctive Sumter County stories.

Photos and films will show what “Homegrown” and “World Renown” actually look like all through the county all year long. Bass and Kirksey both point out the branding is far more than slogans; each goal and project is designed to clearly document current-day expressions of historic facts.

Because of One Sumter partnerships, professional photographer Matthew Odom of Macon is devoting a year to capturing those details in still photography. Images include festivals, businesses, attractions, lifestyle and numerous entities.

Codec is the broadcast and media production company partnering with One Sumter to produce a two-minute video for extensive showings on social media and websites along with conference and trade show presentations.

Visual content creation is well underway, Kirksey said, with the next video project to be 30-second commercials.

Laurie Rowe Communications (LRC) joined forces with One Sumter to build marketing and communications tools supporting the economic development initiative and drawing regional, state and national attention to distinctive local education, healthcare, police and safety and real estate quality of life endeavors.

Headquartered in Panama City, Florida, LRC manages marketing and communications for  communities and tourism entities in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. LRC also provides media relations for TravelSouth USA and the Southeast Tourism Society.

One Sumter Economic Development Foundation partners include Sumter County, the City of Americus, Georgia SouthWestern State University and South Georgia Technical College.

Beneficiaries of the more than $2 million raised by the non-profit Foundation include Americus, Andersonville, DeSoto, Leslie, Plains and all of the county.

Kirksey points out another benefit: new clarity by local residents appreciating what makes their own communities distinctive as seen through the lens of the branding concepts.

Results are likely to be incremental; this is a five-year economic and community development initiative within a 20-year vision, Bass points out.

“Remarkable understanding can surface when specific facts and details are studied,” Bass said, “and that’s exactly what happened in this process. One Sumter is equipped now to speak confidently in inspiring terms based on local realities.”