ZION, IL: The city of Zion has hired Citigate Communications for a $250,000 PR campaign to spur economic development in this city of 24,000.
Zion's economy once revolved around a nuclear power plant, but plant owner Commonwealth Edison announced plans to shut down the facility in late 1998. The city has been working to attract new business since then.
The city had worked on a small PR project with Citigate in 2001, was pleased with the results, and decided to hire the agency for a major economic-development push starting this fall, said Delaine Rogers, director of economic development. The new assignment is for one year, but Rogers hopes to extend it if funds become available.
Citigate is providing media relations, creating a new website, and gaining Zion exposure at development trade shows, said Candice Warltier, a director in the Chicago office (headquarters for Citigate's US PR operations).
She and Susan Silk, managing director of Citigate in Chicago, are overseeing the seven-person team working on the Zion project.
The power plant once provided more than half of Zion's property-tax base.
Through an agreement with the state, the utility is phasing out taxes it pays Zion through 2005, so the city has that time window in which to find new industries, Rogers explained.
"We're not going to sit here and whine and cry. We're going to go out and get our name out there," she said.
The new Citigate-designed website will be more user-friendly, providing specific information on available land for developers, Rogers continued.
Citigate also has an economic-development specialist searching for potential new businesses and bringing executives to Zion, Warltier added.
Citigate is developing brochures Zion can supply these potential businesses, something the city did not have previously. "I need a tool I can send out - a reliable information packet," Rogers explained.
Zion was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by a religious group. It's about 40 miles north of Chicago, and an equal distance south of Milwaukee, lying near the Wisconsin-Illinois border on Lake Michigan. The area, once rural, has become suburban in recent years, and attracted a number of retail outlet malls. Zion would like to attract more retail development as well as light industries, Rogers said.