Horizons Committee looking for a "brand"

by Del Bartels

The Philip Chamber of Commerce meeting held Monday, May 12th was a parade of guest speakers on varying subjects.

Three members of the Community Marketing Action Team addressed those in attendance. This team is just one of several created through the Horizons project in order to promote the Philip community and strive to reduce poverty.

Diane Fitch, Becky Brech and Mary Burnett put forth the idea that the Philip area would benefit through a marketing program that creates a slogan-like "brand" for the community. The current slogan for Philip is "Where the sun kisses the earth." But, is this what other people say about Philip when they aren't here?

Branding is a process that an entire community embarks upon to change what people say about that area. Studies show that residents know Philip to be an area that boasts its agriculture, its health care, its sports and recreation, its retirement-friendly atmosphere and that it is a great place to raise a family. It is a full- service community.

The three spokespersons were looking for an endorsement from the chamber and as many other political and social organizations as possible to create and put forth a more inviting logo or slogan.

One possibility to start off could be, "Philip - it's a lifestyle."

The present chamber members agreed that the team should proceed. The team spokespersons stressed that this is a starting point. The community as a whole has to endorse any branding process in order for it to become a reality.

In the meantime, the team will continue working on getting South Dakota Department of Transportation signage put up on Interstate 90 directing travelers to Philip, to update Philip information on the South Dakota Department of Tourism information sources and to update all pertaining websites.

Branden West presented an update on the Matched Bronc Ride event scheduled for June 20th. Radio advertisements will begin soon. Requests for barrel racing and for even miniature bull riding with child contestants had to be denied. Such things may be interesting and something worth seeing, but not as part of the Matched Bronc Ride. Perhaps those sponsors can request participation during Festival Days.

For the bronc event, the grandstands will be set up far in advance and will surround the arena. The bucking chutes will also be erected well in advance. Chamber members will help with ticket taking and food services.

Mike and Marcia West summarized the power of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Retired Teachers Association (RTA). Presently, health care is a big political concern for the group.

Since the creation of both organizations by a woman who was a retired teacher, they both have grown powerful in influencing South Dakotans. Senior citizens are the largest voting block in the state and are growing. The South Dakota Retirement System is strong financially, with over $1.6 billion in reserve. The Haakon County economy has an influx of $1,240,000 per year from the retirement income of former teachers.

The Haakon County branch of AARP/RTA offers diverse free benefits such as drivers safety classes, IRS-certified assistance in filing taxes, and available auto and home owners insurance. "Financial planning is extremely important," said Mike West. "Only half of Americans actually save for retirement. And, you cannot depend anymore on working for most of your life; you'll get bumped out by younger people."

Out of town group members are beginning to note that Philip has some excellent parks and historical sites. The AARP/RTA will be sprucing up several parks and flower beds in Philip on Thursday, May 15th. This community service had been postponed from an earlier rain day.

Mike West concluded with stressing that everyone can still apply for the $300 stimulus package made available by filing a tax return this year. People can still apply as late as October. For more information on anything to do with AARP/RTA, contact Mike or Marcia.

The next Philip Chamber of Commerce meeting will be at the 73 Bar and Lounge at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 9th.