August 2016: Agribusiness

Come grow with us in the north country

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

If you are driving on Interstate 81 in the Watertown area, you may have noticed two very large Holstein dairy cows watching you drive by. Their faces are almost 11-feet tall and nearly 8-feet wide. That’s a large Holstein by any standard.

You’ll notice the girls are wearing some “bling” around their necks, are decked out in horns and seem to have a quizzical look while watching you pass by. If you are driving on I-81 northbound, you can see one of the cows high atop a hill just as you pass exit 44. The other cow is watching you as you travel southbound on I-81. She is on the left side of the highway right near the Home Depot. These two cows aren’t just there chewing their cud, they have a big job to do. They are the faces of our new “Come Grow With Us” campaign.

Several months ago, the Board of Directors of Jefferson County Economic Development were reviewing the new JeffersonCountyAgriculture.com website. Board members felt strongly that this new website would be a helpful tool in attracting new agribusinesses to Jefferson County and they also wanted to make the public in Jefferson County aware of the site as an information resource about agriculture. They directed staff to undertake a significant marketing effort to attract Canadian agribusinesses that may be interested in a U.S. location to Jefferson County and do it in such a manner to alert county residents about the site.

Staff put together a marketing plan that will primarily target agribusinesses in the Toronto to Ottawa area of Ontario Canada. Using a variety of marketing tools, the JCED team wants to build recognition in this portion of Canada of the Watertown area as a natural fit for locating agribusinesses; food processors, feed manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and other agriculturally related business. The JCED team identified online, television, billboards, radio and print advertising as the best way to saturate and build brand recognition.

The concept of the Holstein cow watching commuters driving by Watertown was developed in house for use on the billboards, print and in some of the online advertising. A local company, Inkwell Graphics, took the cow concept and enhanced it into the design. Based on public response the office is receiving, people are enjoying the new faces as they approach Watertown. With nearly 385,000 dairy cows within 100 miles of Watertown, the Holstein girls certainly are part of our culture in Northern New York.

Quality Productions, a subsidiary of WPBS TV, was contacted to develop the television commercial. Its concept, based on the content of the website, was to articulate an agricultural business person looking for sites for a new agribusiness. The person came to jeffersoncountyagriculture.com in their search and found the information he needed to locate a site for his project and successfully cut the ribbon on the new business. The television advertisement is now running, reaching into Canadian markets while also being available to local viewers. The audio from the television ad worked well for use on radio advertising on several local stations that have broad appeal into Canada.

A Cooperative Business Recruitment Grant from National Grid was obtained to help defray the local cost of the Canadian Marketing campaign. The initiative is designed to provide intense outreach for a four month period into Canada. Some aspects of the effort may extend longer. At the end of the four month period, JCED staff will evaluate the success of the campaign and determine if it was effective and how to fund any extensions of the effort.

Meanwhile, our two Holstein girls will continue to watch over the commuters on Interstate 81. The girls would like the public to name them, so any name suggestions may be sent to coordinator@comefarmwithus.com. We’ll let you know if any names are used.

Jay M. Matteson is agricultural coordinator for the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. He is a lifelong Northern New York resident who lives in Lorraine. Contact him at coordinator@comefarmwithus.com. His column appears monthly in NNY Business.