Warren’s target markets

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Target-MarketOne of the three key pillars of my platform for revitalizing Warren is reversing four decades of economic and population decline. It is more than important — it is critical to our survival as a city.

All of our other problems — blight, vacant houses, bad roads, crime, drugs, lack of jobs — are really symptoms of the fact that Warren has been shrinking for 40 years. Unless we can get people and businesses to move to Warren we will never solve the other problems.

Getting growth will not be easy. But hoping GM will call and want to build a new factory is like making lottery tickets your retirement plan. We need to target smaller, achievable goals that fit with what we have to offer.

Declining housing values have hurt many people here. The flip side is that we offer very affordable housing to new comers. This reality gives us three solid target markets for a “move to Warren” campaign; I call them “returnees,” “small town kids” and “down-sizers.”

Returnees” refer to people who grew up in Warren but moved away at some point in life for career opportunities or other reasons. Many of these people think about returning to Warren once they retire. I know at least a dozen people who have done just that — including me.

We came back because we can live inexpensively and because we still have family and friends here. Warren’s central location makes it an easy place to travel from. Health care is good. So are four seasons as long as you can get away for a bit of the winter.

All this has happened just because. What if we recognize that reality, and put a little marketing muscle into turning this into a larger trend?

Every graduating class from the past 50 years at Harding, Western Reserve and Kennedy has a person with a contact list of the people with whom they graduated. We could easily develop an email list of former Warranties who might consider moving back.

We should develop a packet of information especially designed to answer the questions of potential returnees. Some will move back and others will visit more often — that’s growth, too. And some will find other ways to invest in the new Warren, but that is another topic I will address soon.

Small town kids” refer to young adults who grew up in Trumbull County, but not Warren. They should also be a target market for us. There is a very strong trend towards young adults moving into cities regardless of where they grew up. They want to be able to walk to entertainment and shops. They want a more urban environment.

It would be difficult for us to attract these young people from far away places, but consider a young person who grew up in Kinsman or Cortland, who is tired of the isolation of the suburbs or rural areas. Perhaps they want to take courses at Kent Trumbull without driving so many miles daily. On the other hand, they enjoy living near friends and family and don’t want to be several hours away or more.

We can attract those people to live in downtown, or the GardenDistrict, and we can do it without spending a fortune on marketing. It is a big advantage having your target audience close by and we need to exploit that advantage.

Finally, “empty-nesters” are similar to “small town kids” in that they live in the county, but they are older. Their children are out of school and soccer leagues, and now they want a smaller, less expensive home. But they want to remain in the area — but closer to restaurants — because they are tired of cooking. They want to attend festivals and concerts but without the long drive home.

I know people who have already made a move like this and you probably do, too. Many more might move here if we made the effort to suggest the option.

Initiatives like this are the low hanging fruit that we must exploit first if Warren is to grow again. If we don’t, Warren will continue to shrink and our problems will continue to grow. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We can do better.

Written by:  Dennis Blank for Mayor

Posted Monday, August 17th, 2015 under Economic development, Election.

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