GOSHEN — Goshen’s schools, businesses and officials want to tell stories of the good that comes out of their city.
The Good of Goshen, a campaign highlighting the work of individuals who are involved in the community, is an effort planned by the City of Goshen, the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, Goshen Community Schools and Goshen College to rebrand the city.
The four entities became sponsors of the campaign and are now working with Eyedart Creative Studio to develop the project, said Gina Leichty, one of Eyedart’s partners.
Part of the campaign included launching a website, goodofgoshen.com, which features stories of entrepreneurs and community leaders who work to make Goshen a better city.
The campaign and the website launched in late July, during the Elkhart County 4-H Fair parade, but the plan is to have an official launch in September. Around that time, billboards will pop up to advertise the campaign.
“People are uncommonly passionate about the city and their community, and so it’s been really fun for us to uncover those stories and have an opportunity to tell them because we believe in what we’re doing and in our city,” Leichty said. “And there’s just so much good material available that makes it really easy.”
At the same time, the website is encouraging residents to submit their own stories of people they know who have been influential in the community.
“People are already starting to respond to the stories and we’re really excited about this,” Leichty said. “I think people in Goshen are just really proud of their community.”
The plan for the website is to have a story posted once a week and for a video to be posted once every over week, not counting the stories that are submitted by residents, according to Grace Bonewitz, one of Eyedart’s partners. At the end of March, the sponsors and developers will review the process and determine whether to continue or if something needs to be changed in how the campaign is handled.
SELLING THE COMMUNITY
In 2012, after collecting data from interviews, surveys and focus groups, the Goshen Chamber of Commerce received a report from North Star Destination Strategies with suggestions of how to rebrand Goshen.
David Daugherty, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce, said the Good of Goshen campaign has become the most comprehensive movement for marketing of the city that’s been planned.
“What communities have learned is that it’s a product like anything else, and you have to sell that product,” he said. “Whether you look at the issue of economic development or bringing other businesses, you have to sell the community. We all face that same dilemma, so the great thing is we all came together around this brand statement and tagline that came out of the report.”
After the report was completed, Daugherty presented it to the Greater Goshen Association, a group that promotes the development of the city and of which Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman is a member.
Soon the City of Goshen, Goshen Community Schools and Goshen College got on board in planning the campaign.
Kauffman said the city and schools decided to collaborate because it made more sense to work together to market something in which the city, the schools, the chamber and the college all believe in.
“As the chamber prospers so does the city,” he said. “It makes sense that we collaboratively market the community.”
Kauffman said all four partners contributed with funds equally. The city used economic development funds for their contribution.
Jodi Beyeler, interim director of communications at Goshen College said marketing the city would ultimately help the college in recruiting students.
“Primarily we want to share what’s great that’s happening in the community. When Goshen thrives, that is to our benefit as well,” Beyeler said.
Goshen’s efforts to sell itself as a community is in no ways a new concept.
“Cities have been looking for ways to market themselves for a long time as part of their economic development strategy,” Leichty said.
Towns and cities are rebranding themselves through companies like North Star to bring not only visitors but potential residents and entrepreneurs to the city as well. In Goshen’s case, Leighty says, the city wants to show why it’s become a successful community.
“Especially across the Midwest, there are small towns struggling to stay alive and Goshen isn’t, and that’s one of the things we want to talk about in our storytelling,” she said. “Why is Goshen different than so many other cities that we see. Why is the business community doing well, why are there so many entrepreneurs here. Why are the schools so successful.”
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Sharon Hernandez on Twitter at @Sharon_HT