Butte creates more buzz for a city its size than others in the country but needs to aggressively promote itself for the kind of notice it really wants, a Texas-based marketing company says.
“This is a city that generates a lot of publicity for the wrong reasons,” Angelos Angelous, principal executive officer of AngelouEconomics, said Tuesday. “Let the world know what you have got here.”
Butte-Silver Bow, through its tax-increment financing industrial district, is paying the company up to $67,000 to help focus and improve its economic development and marketing efforts. The company says it has done hundreds of such projects for other cities, many of them similar in size to Butte.
The company, based in Austin, Texas, conducted numerous interviews and focus groups with economic stakeholders here and surveyed businesses and residents before publicly revealing its much-anticipated recommendations Tuesday.
They were focused on five sectors the company says Butte should target to diversify and strengthen its economy: tourism, manufacturing, logistics, mining and environmental engineering, and innovative and specialized services.
Among the specific recommendations:
Try to bring Highlands College to the Uptown to occupy vacant space and boost its business sector.
Stricter enforcement of building codes.
Strengthen programs to grow the industrial park.
Connect high schools and trade schools to targeted industries, including mining and environmental engineering.
Create an alumni network that could bring back highly skilled Butte natives to the area.
Organize an annual conference or trade event to showcase mining technologies or other Butte strengths.
Entice more writers, artists and entrepreneurs through low-cost housing options and course offerings at Montana Tech.
Offer vacation packages and other tourism incentives and enhance bed-and-breakfasts.
Angelou presented a sneak peek of the report Tuesday at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives.
Butte has lots of strengths, including its relatively low housing prices and property taxes, a business-friendly local government and the corridor of Interstates 15 and 90, he said. Among the drawbacks are high utility costs.
Although he did not call it the Flat, that area of Butte was not very attractive and can be found in any community, he said. But Uptown was special and something to promote.
“I see tremendous potential for Uptown,” he said. “I don’t think there are many downtowns that have that type of product and potential types of products you have.”
What Butte needs more than anything, he said, is more people, and marketing is key to drawing more people and businesses here.
“We do believe that the only thing lacking in your city is marketing,” he said.
The full marketing report is scheduled to be released next week, and will be available on the Butte-Silver Bow website.