RDA, downtown ready to run with Cheese Capital of the World marketing

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – With the trademark in hand, the Redevelopment Authority is ready to start making the city the Cheese Capitol of the World again – for real.

City Administrator Brian Yerges told the RDA at their meeting Thursday that city officials have officially obtained a state trademark to the slogan, long associated with the city.

The city also has registered several internet domain names along with the slogan, he added.

Downtown manager Randy Schwoerer told the RDA that he is working with downtown businesses on marketing plans utilizing the slogan.

That includes creating a logo incorporating the slogan, Gentine said.

“We want to make certain we are being consistent, otherwise we’re not building a brand, it’s just a jumble of words,” he said of plans to oversee use of the Cheese Capitol of the World slogan.

The city will control the trademark, Yerges explained. City officials are creating a trademark use agreement that would allow the slogan to be used by businesses, groups and organizations – such as media groups, the Chamber of Commerce and the Plymouth Arts Center – at no charge in an approved method.

Yerges said that Diane Lupke of Lupke & Associates in Manitowoc, a nationally-recognized economic development consultant, will be working with the city on marketing ideas for the Cheese Capitol of the World slogan.

“She’s going to be doing a survey of the greater Plymouth area to get feedback on how to take advantage,” of the trademarked slogan, Yerges told the RDA.

“It’s important to get community feedback and community support,” Yerges emphasized.

Schwoerer also reported on his work thus far with the downtown business owners.

“I’ve been very, very touched by the enthusiasm and commitment everybody has,” Schwoerer told the RDA members. “We’ve got nobody who says we’re wasting our time.”

“The downtown has had ideas, but we’ve never had a go-to or get-it-done person. That’s what Randy has been doing really well,” RDA member Carole O’Malley, a downtown business and property owner, reported.

“We’ve had more people at our meetings than I’ve seen in three, four or five years,” O’Malley said of the Downtown Business Association.

Schwoerer said the group is planning a full calendar of Christmas holiday promotions and events to increase business downtown and gave the RDA a rundown of what is planned.

“It sounds like we’ve turned on the ignition with these programs and it sounds like we’re going to have an exciting holiday season,” RDA member and Alderman David Williams commented.

Yerges noted that the recent meeting of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin at The Osthoff resort in Elkhart Lake has sparked interest in registering Plymouth’s downtown as a historical district.

The city will be working with Jennifer Lehrke of Legacy Architecture in Sheboygan to obtain the designation.

Both Yerges and Gentine emphasized that such a designation would not create any restrictions or mandatory guidelines for downtown business and property owners.

“It has nothing to do with building requirements and it has nothing to do with you can or can not do this to your building,” Yerges said of the historic district designation.

“What it does is open up a 20 percent federal tax credit for people who invest in those buildings,” he stressed. There is also a 20 percent tax credit available through the state of Wisconsin as well, at least through 2016, Yerges added.

“It would include the downtown business district as we currently define it. There may be certain buildings excluded but we would try to keep them as contiguous as possible,” Gentine said.

A meeting between Lehrke and the downtown business group is tentatively scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24.

“Jennifer has done this multiple times in the past,” Schwoerer said of the designation process. “The door has kind of opened up for us right now. There is no cost and nothing to lose. This only has upside.”

State Historical Society representatives visited downtown Plymouth during their meeting at The Osthoff, he added, and they were enthusiastic about the potential for creating a historic district in downtown Plymouth.

Schwoerer said the designation and tax credit would be another tool to be used for attracting, retaining and enhancing downtown businesses. “It’s another arrow in our quiver, and we need all the arrows we can get.”

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