The First Impressions team is designing a branding process for Wardsville. Here’s what we said last year about marketing Wardsville:
Elliot Lake stands as an example of what can be done to attract seniors to a community that has lost its economic drivers. One Wardsville resident splits his time between Elliot Lake and Wardsville.
“Branding” Wardsville and area must be done strategically after much research and consideration. To start, residents and business owners have pointed out the following:
• Wardsville needs a marketing plan that targets businesses and new residents.
• Image is everything. Wardsville currently has a negative image that is not deserved.
• A small community like Wardsville cannot offer all services to all ages.
• Beware of naming the community a “retirement community”. It’s already a retirement community. Select terminology surrounding housing development carefully. “Condos” are also perceived negatively in some quarters.
• Seniors need services. Retirement and nursing homes need skilled workers. Viable communities need schools. Rural areas must attract the right balance of ages, families, and diversity. Retirees need youth to do little jobs…grass, raking, shoveling snow, light housekeeping.
• Research shows that Wardsville should attract those in their 40s and 50s before they have made their final move. By the time people reach the early senior years (60 – 75), many have already located to the home where they intend to stay as they age.
• The type of seniors who would be attracted to Wardsville with its Carolinian forests, Heritage River, mature golf course, may want to be part of a diverse community with all ages.
• Choose a theme. Perhaps Wardsville could celebrate its rich transportation heritage focusing on oil, prohibition, and the Shamrock. Wardsville’s successful destination business, Wardsville Tire, is automotive-based. Many believe the Shamrock car should come home. The history of Longwoods Road could be told. Partnerships could be built with Bothwell, Petrolia, Oil City, and the oil industry.
• Choose a theme with a unique twist, a theme that can evolve over time so that the brand and message don’t become dull and tired. For example, the “heart smart community”: The great out doors. Heart smart, Trail Fit, Senior Fit. Golf and the terrain, walking, birding, river, fishing, canoeing.
Excerpt from Community Assets list prepared at Nov 28, 2007 meeting.