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“Branding” not new, needs more study

To the editor: I read your article “Downtown revitalization project gets more attention”, with some interest and I wish to present my layman’s view. re·vi·tal·ize (r-vtl-z) To impart new life or vigor to: plans to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods; tried to revitalize a flagging economy. The statement was made that “many other communities have successfully made the effort”. My question is “which communities, at what cost, to whom, and to what end”. Success is not necessarily the result of effort. Brown said “a lot of the work has already been done”, referencing studies of the last 25 years. If revitalization is their true goal, it would depend upon healthy retail businesses and no business plan would be developed using such obsolete and superficial data. The completed plans mentioned were “Downtown Enhancement Plan, Prineville Transportation Plan, Downtown Parking Study, a 1976 Downtown Beautification Element, and of course the much heralded Sidewalk Inventory. In addition, the long term needs for this revitalization effort(?) was additional county office space, Civic Plaza, government purchase of centrally located retail spaces on 3rd, plus the Pacific Power Bldg. This is not to mention our existing needs of a new Jail plus permanent new Family Services facilities. Instead of generating healthy employment and business facilities it appears that the revitalization is to be a tax driven effort to create government facilities and to enhance Prineville’s life style. If our vacant industrial sites, downsized mills, underused railway, less profitable businesses, were addressed with corrective actions the town would be revitalized from within not by our taxes constructing a facade. If the intent to revitalize is really to keep the city’s business community healthy then the studies should be focused on ways to court new business that can generate employment and competition not generate marketing logos. The revitalization would then be strong and automatic, and easily tailored to a community’s theme. One “branding” example that had been previously presented was Lakeview’s brand of being Oregon’s Outback(?). Does anyone really believe that this theme or moniker would change a 21st century business decision of where to profitably locate? Another example given was Sisters, whose business foundation developed first guided by a common community backed theme, not a theme that created the business. On the surface the current “brand”/revitalization effort appears to be more tax funded and ego driven than problem resolution and goal oriented. One only needs to view the local unemployment levels and the volume of homes for sale to determine where Prineville’s revitalization effort should begin. Bernie Steinberger Prineville