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Improve Oakes Community Marketing Plan

by April Haring

April HaringOakes is a community with substantial growth and progress.  Our community has grown in all areas with a new water system, a new gym on the public school, and new healthcare facilities.  As the City Auditor and Community Development Coordinator I am very proud of our area and want to be able to share our success with others and to continue our commitment in services.  My RLND project is “Building the Future Together” for Oakes.  The project’s goal is to provide services to the community in the most efficient and best economical way possible and to share our commitment and success with others.

Part of the project is to improve the current community marketing plan and to create a new campaign to promote the community for tourism, potential residents and possible businesses.  I have formed a committee of representatives from different organizations in our community.  These members include Oakes Chamber of Commerce, Oakes Enhancement Inc (the local development group), City of Oakes, Tornado TV and Job Service.  I have been successful in obtaining a grant of $2500 through a local bank to start my project.  I am gathering more information to apply for further funding through different programs.

The project includes retaining assistance from a professional artist to assist in the design process of a new logo and symbol for our community.  Once a new design has been developed, we will create posters, brochures, and other forms of media to distribute.  A simple relocation folder has been created to replace the existing brochure but a more professional version needs to be created.  New and different materials targeting specific areas of interest need to be added so a complete packet can be given to those new to the area. A short promotional video has also been started by the Tornado TV Group at our Oakes High School.

I believe the project is needed in the community to increase tourism and other activities and to inform/share our successes with others.  Our current publications are outdated resulting in poor representation of our community to those interested in Oakes.  Our community has grown and developed dramatically since the publication of the last brochure.  Oakes has much more to offer and we feel we need to communicate this better to the region.

The other part of my project is to enhance even more of our community.  Currently the City is in the middle of a construction project to replace deteriorating sewer and water mains.  Included in part of this construction project is a stretch along Main Avenue.  For the western three block of Main Avenue all of the sidewalks, curb and gutter, and streets will be getting replaced plus other improvements such as street lights and decorations.  Along with these community enhancements I feel other areas should also be considered. 

The community is in need of a way to provide needed services to the community in the most efficient and best economical way possible.  One way I feel this can be achieved is by the renovation/construction of the aged Armory.  This completed facility will house the Fire Department, the National Guard and still be able to provide space for community activities and events plus emergency shelter.  The building may also be large enough to provide space for the Law Enforcement Department and other City and community offices. 

The current expenses of operation and maintenance of the City buildings is constantly increasing due to the age of these buildings.  City departments could utilize more space by sharing meeting rooms and offices.  Space is also needed for many not-for-profit and youth groups to hold meetings, activities, and events.  Currently many of these organizations are being forced to limit their capability due to the rental prices in the area.  Finally, construction of a new building will provide work to local and area contractors hopefully providing a little “economic stimulus” to the area.  With new processes we are also hoping to be more environmentally conscious and utilize “green” technology.

A community facility such as this would be a great asset to the area.  The building will be an important place in our community, a center to provide all types of services to the public and space for many youth and not-for-profit group activities.  By improving the current area, we will be providing a way to help more activities and events grow and prosper in and around the area.

I am working on gathering funding and support for this part of my project.  I have applied to various private grants and state funding agencies.  Currently without assistance for improvements, the project will be deserted and the possibility of closing the Armory would be imminent due to the high costs of maintenance and repairs.  The closing of the Armory would result in the loss of the local National Guard Unit and the space for community functions and events.  The current Fire Hall would also be compromised and in order to keep up with costs a levy would need to be added to the property tax. 

Both parts of my projects are constantly growing and I feel will continue to expand and change as each phase is completed.  I believe the hardest part is obtaining funding and professional participation to finish each phase.  I am hoping that by the end of my RLND experience I will have the first part of my project complete and funding obtained for the second part.

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