Many community colleges have extremely limited communications budgets and personnel and have not invested in the capacity needed to provide communications and positioning that results in transformative economic development in their communities.  A project with which Coherent Marketing has been involved for several years shows how smart, sustained strategic communications can dramatically impact economic development in 21st Century job sectors. 

The North Carolina Advanced Manufacturing Alliance received an $18 million US DOL grant to upgrade equipment and curricula for specialized advanced manufacturing training at 10 community colleges in largely rural counties that had lost jobs to offshoring.  Integrated Media Strategies was brought on early in the project in 2011, and provided branding, marketing and communications support.  We developed a website and social media accounts and worked with college instructors and staff to sustainably create content in line with strategic positioning goals.

In September of 2015, the return on investment (ROI) on the $18 million has been more than $1.3 billion in new capital investments and expansions in the counties the colleges serve and more 6,600 jobs created. 

In these counties, that is a significant positive economic development impact. 

With workforce being a deciding factor in site selection, having sustained, credible content about the programs being offered has made the difference to site selectors doing due diligence on possible locations for their facilities.  The communications capacity we provided assisted colleges to attract and recruit student numbers to their programs, which range from advanced materials to mechatronics and multi-axis CNC and 3D printing. Additionally, without this communications capacity about their specialized workforce development and training programs, they would not have attracted the investment they did.  By showing consistent, sustained, credible and authentic content about high quality programs, being shortlisted for advanced manufacturing projects was ensured and economic development agencies were able to do the rest.  The visibility also empowered the consortium's advanced manufacturing departments to be able to better engage industry and leverage placements of interns and graduates as full-time employees.

If your county, region or sector is seeking strategic communications guidance for economic development communications, contact us.  We have had a similar record in biotechnology, biofuels and now advanced manufacturing and have worked with country governments and state and regional organizations, as well as consortiums.

The original article, which provides a table of companies recruited, capital investments and jobs created is at the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance website.

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