North Huntingdon hopes to brand itself to attract more development

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

North Huntingdon officials are seeking the public's input as they begin implementing a consultant's recommendation that the municipality do a better job of promoting and marketing itself to stimulate economic development.

“Our goal is to create a cohesive, consistent message from the township when we communicate with potential business investors,” said Michael Turley, the municipality's assistant manager. “But before we can do that, we all need to all be on the same page about what the message is and how it's conveyed.”

The idea of creating a “brand” for the township was among a dozen recommendations made by North Side-based Fourth Economy Consulting, which conducted a four-month analysis to help municipal officials develop short- and long-term economic-development strategies.

The analysis included a series of discussions with local officials and business leaders; visits to key industrial, commercial and residential sites, as well as schools and parks; and the collection of demographic and economic data.

Fourth Economy's report suggested that those individuals outside of the immediate area of North Huntingdon do not know where the township is located.

“However, when you say ‘Irwin or ‘Norwin,' most people can relate to or identify the general area. While this may be considered a challenge, it has not necessarily impeded North Huntingdon's ability to attract new investment and residents,” the report said.

To help develop a branding and marketing strategy, residents are being sought to serve on a working group that will include elected officials and business leaders.

A questionnaire on the township's website — — is being used to gather information and help identify potential members for the working group.

“We put the survey up because we feel that it's very important that we (municipal officials) aren't doing this all by ourselves,” Turley said. “The public should be involved in helping us steer the process, so, hopefully, the survey will give provide us with direction.”

Commissioner Tony Martino, who has volunteered to serve on the working group, said the idea of creating a coordinated message is vital to the municipality's efforts to attract business.

“The people who know about North Huntingdon know that it's a great place,” Martino said. “So putting our township out there to the county, state and beyond could help us entice some businesses to at least consider us when they are looking to expand.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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