BRADENTON -- "Think Global. Think Bradenton Area."
It's the new marketing slogan that's been developed for the newly renamed Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. to sell companies on the idea of doing business here.
The customer-focused branding was unveiled Tuesday at the EDC's Charting the Course event at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
Ben Wright, CEO of Atlas Advertising of Denver, introduced the concept to several hundred attendees, mainly business owners and community leaders.
"The key to economic development is teamwork," keynote speaker Gray Swoope, Florida secretary of commerce and president/CEO of Enterprise Florida told the crowd.
The state needs to invest in trade and sports -- areas Manatee County is excelling in, Swoope said.
He said Florida "has never had an economic development effort that reflects what a super state Florida is.
"We need to tell our stories. We have a strong business brand, we've just never been able to tell our story."
The new marketing effort, which EDC officials hope will allow them to tell the county's stories, is the result of work by 13 volunteer members of the marketing task force and Atlas Advertising, which did surveys and market research.
The company discovered that more businesses outside the area identify with the name Bradenton Area than Manatee or Sarasota.
"There is not a lot of understanding of the area and what it is about," Wright said.
The positives Manatee County has, however, are the cost of doing business, which is 20 percent less than other Florida coastal cities, port access through Port Manatee and good available business locations.
Chris Ciaccio, head of the marketing task force and vice president of sales and marketing for IMG Academy, said 20 different marketing firms were interviewed before choosing Atlas to develop the new branding.
Jerry Marlar, outgoing EDC chair, said his year as head of the organization "was the most gratifying volunteer service in his career." The EDC added 52 new investors in 2012 along with seven which have increased their commitment level, he said.
Incoming 2013 Chairman John Rice, the first head of the newly named economic development agency, said attendance at Tuesday's event had doubled since last year.
"Manatee County is the most business-friendly community from a government aspect," Rice said. "I want to do everything possible to influence this economy within the four corners of this great county."