CMP Study

Collaborative Marketing study
provides ‘tools of opportunity’

Survey results to help
guide county in managing growth

By Don Ward

(July 2002) MADISON, Ind. – With residential and commercial growth from metropolitan areas creeping ever closer to Jefferson County, Ind., consultants say the time to act is now if local residents and business owners want to have any say in how the county manages its future retail base, say consultants hired to study the county’s retail marketing and agri-business.
Two consultants from Marketek of Atlanta and Portland Ore., on June 24 presented their findings from a year-long study during a meeting of nearly 100 people held at the Jefferson County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Mary Bosch

Mary Bosch

It was hailed as the first-of-its-kind retail marketing study because it included agri-business and factors that may be considered to help keep farmers on their farm in the wake of recent tobacco program cutbacks. The study was commissioned by the Collaborative Marketing Project of Jefferson County steering committee, made up of dozens of volunteer members from the county’s various governments, organizations and businesses.
The committee specifically wanted to know what could be done to stem the flow of money being spent outside the county for goods and services, including agriculture-related products. “A key problem the county faces is what we call ‘retail leakage,’ which is approaching 90 percent in some segments. Retail leakage is Jefferson County shoppers spending their money outside the county,” said CMP facilitator Ann Grahn.
Using a slide presentation to illustrate statistical data and recommendations, Mary P. Bosch and Eleanor Quinn Matthews told the group to get the community involved, generate a comprehensive plan and take action.
Bosch highlighted the pluses and minuses of the county’s four distinct retail marketing units: downtown Madison, Madison hilltop, Hanover and rural Jefferson County. By breaking the study down into these four areas, the consultants were able to address specific factors and make recommendations. Now it is up to the Collaborative Marketing Project committee to sort through the findings and develop a plan of action, Grahn said.
“The study is no good unless it is implemented, and that’s the task we face now,” Grahn said.
A group of community leaders met in closed session the following morning to review the findings. The CMP committee was scheduled to meet soon afterward to fine-tune a final version of the study, which is scheduled to be made available on the CMP Internet website for downloading by July 10. The website address is: www.madisonindiana.org.
In addition to business owners and local government officials, state agriculture officials, including Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Pearson, attended the June 24 meeting in hopes of gleaning from it ideas that could be put to use in other Indiana counties.
“What we see happening here is exciting, and we applaud this effort to seek ways to help our farmers stay on the land and make a living,” said Wendy Dant Chesser, executive director of the Indiana Rural Development Council in Indianapolis.
It is hoped by committee members that the results of the study will help them address several issues:
n How to stop the flow of spending outside the county for goods and services;
n How to replace the income for tobacco-producing farmers hit by cutbacks;
n How Hanover can successfully serve its growing bedroom community of year-round residents and the nine-month population of Hanover College students;
n How to better integrate residential with commercial areas on the Madison hilltop;
n How to counteract business vacancies in downtown Madison.
More than 3,000 surveys (10 percent of the county population) were completed by residents and business owners in the study. The surveys helped consultants gain an understanding of the perceptions, needs and motivations of local shoppers, businesses and farmers.
“They indicate the stores and services most desired or needed in the county and identify the factors that shoppers consider important in deciding where to shop,” Grahn said.
The study was funded in part by the Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp and the Lilly Endowment Inc.
Retail sales increased 188 percent in Jefferson County between 1991 and 2001. That’s far above the national average of 100 percent. In agriculture, the trend seems to be headed to more entrepreneurial agriculture, whereby new business ventures are launched.
“Such statistics and the findings we have before us now from the study presents us with a daunting challenge, but it gives us the tools we need to get started,” Grahn said.
During the question-and-answer session that followed the presentation, the consultants were asked about the potential impacts of a future new Ohio River bridge, the growth of neighboring counties, the lack of a larger highway connecting Madison to I-65, the stagnant population growth in Jefferson County and industrial growth.
The consultants said such factors were not studied because they did not fall into the parameters of the retail marketing analysis.
#CMP committee chairman and city councilman Jim Lee concluded the evening with a passionate speech urging county residents to pull together in supporting the development of a plan to guide the county’s future growth – or its reaction to competing growth all around it.
“This is a critical time for us to structure vision for our future,” he said. “Our job is to get people excited and become a part of it.”
Lee’s steering members include Dave Adams, Connie Combs, Grahn, John Grote, Jerry Hay, Wayne Kyle, Sandy Shelton, Margaret Seifert, Tony Steinhardt and Betsey Vonderheide.
The Retail Marketing Analysis was funded in part by the Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp and the Lilly Endowment Inc. In addition to the study, the CMP committee has initiated several other efforts, including new brochures and road signage, an annual Community Day with Hanover College freshmen, and integrating the thematic design of all publications produced by county tourism and historical groups.

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