The Gulfport Marketing Machine

Rob Fowler

Great Hard Candy this week (July 5th)! This is a very important subject and the timing is perfect as we plan into Gulfport's future. I would also love to see Gail Biron get a well deserved raise, and dream of her having an assistant (we all really miss seeing Phil Penrose working with Gail), and a fat advertising/marketing budget. I feel that one day that will be reality. However, even with all that and more, the City would still be just one part of the ever-growing Gulfport marketing machine. Remember that we have dozens of hard working volunteers putting in hundreds of hours, we have numerous businesses and individuals donating time and money toward our events and purposes, and several organizations all working to bring people into our town enhancing our public image and our standard of living. The Gulfport Merchants Association (GMA) is the biggest advertiser for Gulfport spending tens of thousands of dollars a year in local and regional newspapers, magazines, and other media putting Gulfport events into the minds of intrigued strangers who may have never heard of us. The GMA also introduces Gulfport to tens of thousands of new visitors who actually come to our area for events. The Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce maintains our vibrantly active and only Visitor Information Center full of local Gulfport information, resources, and personal assistance for visitors and connecting potential customers with member businesses. The Chamber also answers thousands of phone calls and emails every year along with providing relocation packets and resources to prospective new residents, investors, and businesses. The 49th Street South Business Association (So49) brings in thousands of visitors to the 49th Street South corridor with the Tangerine Blues Fest it took over from the City of Gulfport and Chamber of Commerce several years ago. And of course the City of Gulfport with the Casino, Theater, Marina, its parks, the beach, city events, interesting history, other valuable public offerings which help our marketing efforts. All four have a powerful web presence increasing public awareness of our positive community attracting even more new visitors (and great potential for increased tax dollars) to an international audience. And there are numerous other groups investing valuable time and money promoting Gulfport as well; the Industrial Arts Center (IAC), The Longhouse, the Gulfport Arts Center, the City of Imagination, the Blueberry Patch, the Historical Society, and so many more. Countless. Plus individuals and businesses, like myself with I have been taking calls all week, at all hours believe me, offering information to callers from many area codes about the 4th of July activities, Debbie updates, and more. In fact, most of the phone calls I take every week are for Gulfport information. And we have Lori Rosso, who works non-stop for Gulfport without thought about compensation. In fact if someone mentions paying her for her time, she strongly refuses for fear someone will think she is being self-promoting (which in my opinion is much allowed and I'd encourage any of our volunteers to reap whatever benefits they can from their tireless work). There are too many individual names to mention and any long list would unintentially leave some important ones out. Then also the media, The Gabber in particular, and numerous others (I won't mention per Gabber rules). Of course, you Hard Candy, were right there with us working, getting dunked in the tank at Aquamania, contributing to the ultimate cause of helping Gulfport thrive just a little bit more. Thank you! We all work together now, and we should find ways to work more efficient, more profitably, and all the while making sure we maintain the sheer fun of it all. There are ways to increase profit at all our events and ways for us to do more with less. The City should be a huge winner from all this work, it should be one of the many winners. Everybody should win, and we will. Should the City be the third party to tie it all together? Maybe. I am not sure. Some would definitely say the Chamber should be as that is traditionally one of the roles of a Chamber of Commerce. I don't know that local media should not be the uniting force. But do I think in Gulfport's case, it could be government, an association, a business, or even one individual. It is just a matter of leadership, not appointment. Maybe Gail Biron? How about you, Cathy? :)