The Wellington Village Council conducted its Directions 2017 Summary Workshop on Friday, May 26, with a focus on marketing the village outside the community.
Village Manager Paul Schofield said that after the original workshop in March, village staff took about 25 items away from the meeting that they had some direction on.
These included addressing multifamily neighborhoods, code enforcement issues, increasing community participation, zoning incentives and adjustments, conceptual planning, Great Neighborhoods grants, creating model blocks and a redevelopment marketing plan, the Welcome Wellington program, senior home safety, community signage, roadway enhancements, small business grants, commercial coordination and more.
“They go from looking at multifamily neighborhoods to dealing with code enforcement,” Schofield said.
Staff grouped those diverse issues into seven different areas: quality of life, infrastructure investment, community investment, individual investment, business investment, redevelopment reinvestment and marketing.
“Those boil down to what are essentially three focus areas for budgets: quality of life, sustainability programs and marketing/branding,” Schofield said. “The programs for budgetary purposes will be grouped into these three major areas.”
A senior staff member will oversee all the working groups, Schofield said, explaining that Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel will oversee quality of life, Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes will manage sustainability programs and Utilities Director Shannon LaRocque will oversee marketing and branding.
“As each of these work groups put together things that go into the budget, people have to make sure that they work with those who are assigned to that,” Schofield said.
Some of the topics are in more than one category, but quality of life takes in schools, community participation, Welcome Wellington, Great Neighborhoods grants, senior home services and safety, cultural arts, work skills education, the clean team, small business grants and house colors.
Sustainability programs are code enforcement, commercial vehicles, commercial coordination, model block, multifamily neighborhoods, community signage, roadway enhancements, park plans, blue ways, the Lake Wellington Professional Centre, zoning incentives and adjustments, midtown issues and conceptual planning.
Schofield said marketing the village is an area to be developed, and he chose LaRocque to lead the program because of her previous experience with Palm Beach County.
“One of the reasons there’s not a lot here is because we’ve never done this before,” he said of the village’s branding efforts. “My reason for choosing Shannon is that she has done this before. As we do this, we’re going to be looking at a consultant.”
One of the reasons for doing community marketing is because the village needs to make sure that people are aware of the things the village does well, which include schools and parks, Schofield said.
“We’re looking for a program that communicates our family lifestyle, the things that are unique about Wellington and our willingness to respond to the changing needs of our residents,” Schofield said. “I don’t think we need to put up billboards. We don’t have to say, ‘We’re great.’ What we have to do is exactly what this council said, which is determine what is great and unique about Wellington and make sure that the people we want to move here know that. I’m not suggesting by any means that we need to start taking out full-page ads in publications across the nation to say, ‘Move to Wellington.’”
Mayor Anne Gerwig asked how community marketing will go about communicating the village’s strong points, and Schofield said that is not clear yet because the village does not have staff who specialize in that, and will probably bring in a consulting team to help with it.
Gerwig said that Public Information Officer Liz Nunez’s department does a good job when the council gives her things to work with.
“If we work with what we have, I don’t know how much outside help we need,” Gerwig said.
Vice Mayor John McGovern said that the village is good at marketing internally, but that he is not sure about the county’s and other municipalities’ awareness of Wellington’s presence.
McGovern added that developers’ marketing of new communities, such as Olympia and Buena Vida, served as de facto marketing for the village when they were selling their homes. But as Wellington nears buildout, that marketing presence is no longer there.
“That puts us in a position where we fall behind, potentially,” McGovern said.
Drawing from her background with the county, LaRocque said marketing is not only the residential, but also the business component.
“I do think external assistance is valuable,” she said. “People here know what we are and they know what we do well, but if we want to look beyond, my recommendation to Paul would be that we bring in some external help. But, I think it’s very valuable to the village moving forward to have an outreach plan that encompasses everything, the business ID, the economic development side, the residential side, everything that Mr. Schofield has talked about today.”
Schofield said he envisions marketing the special lifestyle of Wellington.
“We are different than most communities,” he said, explaining that most communities are 30 to 35 percent commercial or industrial properties.
“In Wellington, that number is under 4 percent, so we are a 95 percent residential community,” he said. “With all the businesses on State Road 7, we’re 95 percent residential.”
With much of Wellington built out, Schofield said that balance will stay that way, and he believes that the village should make sure that people know that Wellington is a generational community where people come and raise a family and retire.
“The fact is that doesn’t happen in any community. As we look to attract residents, we have to be able to attract them based on what we are strong with,” he said. “Part of the marketing is we have to let people know.”
He noted that Wellington is the only community that gives grants to its schools, which are up to about $300,000 annually.
“We’re the only community that does that because we recognize how important our schools are,” Schofield said. “We make a substantial investment in our parks, and when you look over the last decade, we’ve worked on creating an identity and a center for the town. Those are the kinds of things, I think, that when we get to our communications department, they do an outstanding job of creating those things that we ask them to create, and I believe they will always continue to do that. But for somebody to sit down and work with all of the council and the staff to come up with what is our five-year or 10-year plan, that I think we’re going to need some help with.”