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Polishing an image

Madison earns grant to help develop
city’s branding campaign

Money is part of state program
to help downtown areas

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(November 2007) – Madison, Ind., stands to receive a $20,000 grant as part of the state’s $213,600 in separate awards provided to 13 Downtown Enhancement Projects across Indiana. Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman announced the awards on Oct. 18.
The Madison Main Street Program received the award, which will be used for a new city branding campaign. The project is part of the city’s effort to develop its image to help market the recent National Historic Landmark District status.

Madison Main St.

File photo by Don Ward

Local officials are hoping to develop
a marketing campaign to promote
Madison's historic district.

The new Downtown Enhancement Grant is a competitive grant program designed to enhance the development of downtown business districts in Indiana’s Main Street communities. The new program is administered by Indiana Main Street and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
The grant program was designed to encourage innovative approaches to activities that support and promote community-based planning, marketing and restoration efforts.
At an earlier spring meeting in Madison, Indiana Main Street Program Director Jo Grandel announced the creation of the grants. She said the focus of the grant will be to assist Main Street communities with their marketing and promotion projects. While all the details were not then worked out, Grandel told Main Street directors to “be creative” when the applications became available. She said, “We want to customize the need of each Main Street community, and we do not want to squelch creativity.”
Nancy Gruner, president of Madison Main Street Program, heard that message and realized efforts by organizations in Madison to develop a brand or logo for the city would fit the requirements of the grant program.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the outside resources provided to us by the state for this project,” she said.
Gruner said several groups have contributed towards funding the campaign. They include the Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau, which offered $10,000 in funding; Madison-Jefferson County Economic Development Corp. or MIDCOR, with a $1,000 contribution; the City of Madison, with a $10,000 contribution; the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, with a $5,000 contribution.
The other partners in the campaign are Madison Main Street Program, Historic Madison Inc., and the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.
“Several other organizations are slated to come on board as this project goes forward,” said Gruner. “We have gotten many of the key players in the community on board; it is a great partnership.”
She wrote the grant proposal but said many other people also worked hard to develop a cooperative of organizations in Madison, including Madison CVB Executive Director Linda Lytle.
Lytle said the tourism office has wanted to do a branding project for a while, so officials were excited when this enhancement grant opportunity was presented. “The whole community is represented,” she said. “This is the first time for such a project.”
Although details have not been worked out because the money was just awarded, Lytle said the next phase of the project included getting ideas from 12 to 14 companies and choosing the right consultant to develop the branding and logo package for marketing.
“We are making plans to set up meetings and choose the right consultant,” she said. “Communities that have done this before have come out with great products.”
Gruner said the group has an 18-month window from start to finish to bring together all the partners, hire a consultant and develop a brand and logo. “There are so many different messages out there about Madison. A united front with the same message will give everyone more power and potential.”
MIDCOR Executive Director Corey Murphy said his organization got involved in the project because historic downtown Madison is a key asset for the community. “This is an opportunity to increase recognition of the city on a regional, national and international level,” said Murphy, who also sits on the tourism board. “This will have a definite positive economic impact on the entire community.”
The cooperative effort of the various organizations to work toward the overall good of the entire community is also something MIDCOR encourages, he said. “Anytime organizations partner and move forward with a common interest, it only benefits the entire community,” Murphy said. “We are pleased to be a partner with other organizations in our community.”
The money for the 50-50 matching grants comes from “old Commerce Department” allocations. Previously, the Indiana Department of Commerce was in charge of tourism, economic development, energy and community development before new agencies were created under the new Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
Madison Main Street, which is one of 16 state-designated Main Street Programs, sponsors “Light Up Madison” each December, the summer “Music in the Park” series, “Shop-n-Treats” for children, and other events in the community. The purpose of the program is to encourage the economic development, redevelopment and improvement of the downtown area, state officials said.

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