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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette

A $1.6 million advertising campaign touting Wisconsin as the place for business expansion or relocation is expected to complement marketing efforts that have been going on in Rock County since 2012.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. launched a campaign that features radio ads in the Chicago and Minneapolis markets aimed at showcasing Wisconsin as the ideal place for businesses to grow and succeed.

The plan also includes print and online elements that promote the state's business climate and workforce and position Wisconsin as a premier location for business leaders considering starting, expanding or relocating their companies.

In addition, the plan includes an online campaign promoting the state's innovation strengths to entrepreneurs and investors.

“This campaign is strategically designed to reach different audiences in different ways with the same theme: Wisconsin is a great place for companies to do business,” said Reed Hall, chief executive officer of Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state's economic development organization.

“Whether it is online, on the air or in print, we are getting the word out about Wisconsin's strong business climate, skilled workforce and dependable business infrastructure.”

The word's been getting out about Rock County since 2012.

Rock County 5.0 has financed email, web and print ads; direct print and electronic mail; radio spots; billboards; bus wraps; and Metra train card advertising.

Its message targeted decision makers in business, third-party advisors, trade publications and the media, said James Otterstein, Rock County's economic development manager.

The messages have tried to reinforce positive and relevant news, promote the local economic development team's services and establish the value Rock County offers.

The state's campaign will complement Rock County's message, Otterstein said.

“We do not have the same level of resources as WEDC to push forward a highly integrated, year-long campaign that reaches nationwide, although it's heavily dominated in the Twin Cities and Chicago,” Otterstein said.

“The lion's share of our outreach activities are concentrated in the Chicagoland region. The state of Wisconsin carries a more readily identifiable recognition than Rock County, the Janesville-Beloit Metropolitan Statistical Area, South Central Wisconsin or the Stateline Area.”

Otterstein said the state's campaign would command more attention and traverse a much larger audience.

“The same general themes contained in WEDC's campaign are similar to our messaging points: workforce, infrastructure, business climate, opportunities, etc,” he said.

Kelly Lietz, the state agency's vice president of marketing, said the campaign addresses the three universal concerns of businesses considering a relocation to or expansion in Wisconsin:

--“Will I have the right kind of workforce?”

--“Can I get to market efficiently?”

--“What does the future hold in terms of the cost climate?”

The new campaign comes on the heels of a series of television ads that aired earlier this year in the Chicago, Rockford and Minneapolis-St. Paul markets.

Otterstein said the Rock County messages were designed to change a local brand that was defined by a series of economic and political events.

“In terms of the economy, the sudden and severe economic crises that surfaced during the Great Recession—dominated by the idling of the Janesville GM plant—became the area's calling card,” he said.

“Then as the Janesville-Beloit's economy began to show signs of incremental recovery, the spirited Wisconsin Capitol environment and subsequent national political spotlight shifted the attention.

“Consequently, we were dealing with a very challenging storyline.”

In an effort to counteract the narrative, Rock County 5.0 based its message on “Why Not … Rock County.”

“While some tactics have proved more fruitful than others, the key thing to remember is that we're not in a sprint,” he said. “It's a marathon, and that's why we are continually pressing the message in a strategic and fiscally responsive manner.”


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