Redevelopment Management Associates Selection Heads to Council
Over the past year, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council has discussed concepts to better brand Fort Myers Beach, even examining a possible name change to avoid confusion with the City of Fort Myers. On Wednesday afternoon, July 31, the Town’s Selection Advisory Committee met in Town Hall to consider branding firm proposals. Town Contracts Manager Amy Baker chaired the session, though she is a non-voting member, with Utility Manager Christy Cory, Cultural Resources Director & Interim Parks & Recreation Director Alison Giesen, Town Advisory Committee Member Barbara Hill, and Public Works Director Chelsea O’Riley the voting panel.
“We will hear oral presentations from the branding companies,” began Baker. “The Town issued Letters of Interest back in April and received ten submittals. This Committee met on June 12 and narrowed that down to four companies: Aqua Marketing & Communications, Noise Inc., Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) and 2Suns Consulting, inviting those here today. Since then, Aqua Marketing and 2Suns withdrew, so we will consider RMA and Noise.” O’Riley confirmed presentations would last 15 minutes, with an extra 5 minutes for Selection Advisory Committee questions.
RMA went first, represented by Sharon McCormack and Richalyn Miller. McCormack stated, “RMA works exclusively with municipality clients, with many of our people former city employees, so we know the challenges of working inside City Hall.” John Sprecher, Marlene Squires-Swanson and Ashley Burns made the Noise, Inc., presentation, with Sprecher admitting that while they are a statewide and internationally award-winning branding firm, “we have no direct experience with municipalities.” In answering Selection Committee questions, both firms said they could begin work immediately, with RMA estimating it could deliver the final product in 4 to 6 months, while Noise felt they could complete work in roughly 60 days.
One Town Branding
The Selection Advisory Committee discussed the two applicants. Giesen noted that O’Riley made the point that the branding firm must work with the Town on upcoming major projects and asked what those would be. O’Riley replied, “The Town recently contracted with a firm to redesign Times Square, Fountain Square Park and the new Bay Oaks Recreational Center entry parcel, so whoever we select today must play a vital role in all those.”
Giesen added, “The Mound Hose, Newton Beach Park, the Community Pool and Bay Oaks are all important, so we need that collaborative effort. We are a small town so this decision is a game-changer to me.” O’Riley noted, “The Town is less than 25 years old so we are still young, meaning we need a branding company to mesh all our attractions as one, as a public service. What makes Fort Myers Beach different than any other Florida beach community is what we struggle with.” “We must promote what makes us different and what makes us stand out,” said Giesen.
Hill said, “We need to be progressive with our new developments coming to the island, while preserving our heritage, and it is a difficult task to bring those together, to set the tone for the community with a persuasive brand so everyone else follows that lead, islanders and visitors alike, to highlight the uniqueness of Fort Myers Beach. Since MRA works exclusively with municipalities and Noise does not, MRA may be the better choice.” “I agree,” added Giesen.
“When we discuss Fort Myers Beach, it is often North versus South,” noted Cory. “Times Square is such a happening place, full of visitors, while the South end is the more laid back, residential and quiet end, and these must be brought together as one Town of Fort Myers Beach. When I think about places I visit, I see continuity in colors and signs and things like that from start to finish, and I feel we are missing that. I enjoyed both presentations but agree the strength of RMA is working with municipalities.”
“RMA brands many Florida cities,” stated O’Riley, “so I say we should go with them.” With that, the Selection Advisory Committee unanimously voted to begin contract negotiations with RMA, to eventually bring before Town Council, potentially at Council’s upcoming meeting on Monday, August 19.
By Gary Mooney