Meeting with prospective businesses is the next goal for the Fairfield 33 Development Alliance.

Meeting with prospective businesses is the next goal for the Fairfield 33 Development Alliance.

Alliance board members met May 22 to hear a report from the group's marketing team, made up mostly of development directors from regional municipalities, about its attendance at three trade shows this year.

"The first year, the alliance came together and money was spent on developing marketing materials. This year is finding the best ways to get in front of prospects," said Mina Ubbing, chairwoman of the alliance and president and CEO of Fairfield Medical Center.

Ubbing said she thinks board members are in consensus that the marketing team efforts will pay off in the long run.

Chris Strayer, Canal Winchester's development director, said marketing team members attended the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) annual conference, the CoreNet Global Summit and an Industrial Asset Management Council forum, in late April and the beginning of May.

He said the most success came from meetings outside the trade shows with corporate site selectors.

"There's consensus among the group that we need to do more interviews with site selectors," Ubbing said.

She added that marketing team members want to meet with company decision-makers, not for instant answers, but for "cultivating the relationship."

"We don't have immediate results, but by the same token, we have the opportunity to get in front of them," she said. "It's now time to get out and meet people and the next level is to get them here. It's really too early for success."

Strayer said alliance members made hundreds of contacts through attending the trade shows.

"Whether or not that turns into anything is another story," he said. "You're really going out there to build relationships. Eventually, something's going to come up and that's what we want."

Canal Winchester Mayor Michael Ebert, who is also an alliance board member, said he used to work in sales. The alliance is new to the market and selling its name, he said.

"It's a sales job," Ebert said. "I don't think you'll know for the first year the successes. You don't have a way to quantify that."

He said creating marketing materials, as well as experimenting with trade shows and corporate callings are a part of the start-up costs for the alliance.

"There's a lot of startup costs," he said.

The alliance has 34 private-sector sponsors and seven from the public sector.

Travis Markwood, the alliance's treasurer and president of the Lancaster Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, said he expects 2009 investments to total approximately $138,000.

Investors have contributed more than $100,000 so far.

Bill Arnett, Fairfield County's economic development director, said successes from the 2009 marketing plan will be watched closely to establish standards for following years.

"We want to figure out if this alliance marketing plan is working," he said. "Whether you're on the private side or the public side, you need to feel confident this is working."

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com