Freeport, Illinois — Collaborate Freeport, a private-public partnership in Freeport and Stephenson County, announced today that it has hired Blake Musser as director of community marketing. Musser will work with branding and digital agency a5 to continue the development and roll out of the “Freeport All In” and “All In Freeport” marketing effort.
A Freeport native, Musser most recently served as strategic aide to the chief executive officer of SupplyCore in Rockford. Musser was elected to the board of trustees for Highland Community College in 2015.
“We welcome and look forward to Blake leading a collaborative effort to change the narrative in Freeport,” said David Young, executive director of the Northwest Illinois Development Alliance (NIDA). “And we look forward to continuing to work with a5 to go from ‘Freeport good’ to ‘Wow’”.
A graduate of Aquin High School in Freeport, Musser has family roots in Stephenson County stretching back 160 years. A Marine Corps veteran who saw combat in Iraq, Musser attended Highland Community College and later earned his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and his Masters degree from George Mason University.
“The brand and marketing campaigns mark a really exciting and dynamic period for Freeport and for Stephenson County,” Musser said. “My wife and I, with our two children, moved back to Freeport from a career in Washington, D.C. We are ‘All In.’ I look forward to working with a5 and all the community partners to spread the word that Freeport is a terrific place to live, work and build a happy life.
In the first year of the brand and marketing campaign, $125,000 was raised from public and private sources to promote Freeport and Stephenson County. All yearone investors have returned for year two and some investors have increased their commitment. The campaign is funded with approximately 25-percent public money and 75-percent private donations through Collaborate Freeport.
The dual “All In” community brand for Freeport and Stephenson County is designed to increase collaboration and positivity, and to highlight Freeport’s many assets in order to improve economic development, build community and enhance tourism.
Within Freeport and Stephenson County, “Freeport All In.” means that the community is working together toward the shared goal of creating a more vibrant, healthy and engaged community. Current branding initiatives are working to change the internal narrative from “no” to “yes” and from “can’t” to “can.”
Outside the community, “All In Freeport” is all about inviting people in. It sends the message that Freeport has everything needed as a tourist destination, a new hometown, a place to start a business and to raise a family. The campaign developed and deployed the brand that was accompanied by an advertising effort, social media campaign, and web site. Strong relationships were developed with the park district, the city, the Chamber, NIDA, the CVB, Highland Community College and other business and public sector entities throughout Stephenson County.
“Stephenson County has such great assets to offer—beautiful rolling hills, a beautiful riverfront and great events. Whether new to the community or residents who have lived here all their lives, people are going to know about it,” said Amy Fairweather, co-owner of Dreibelbis + Fairweather Photography and a member of the Collaborate Freeport Core Committee. “We have the Lindo Theater. The Winneshiek Players. Little Cubs Field. The Wagner House. Famous Fossil Winery. And now we have a real brand and real plan to promote it all. We see the pieces falling into place.
ABOUT COLLABORATE FREEPORT—
Collaborate Freeport is a new, investor-driven partnership that consists of 22 private investors and five public investors, including the City of Freeport, the Freeport Chamber of Commerce, and the Northwest Illinois Development Alliance (NIDA). This public-private model promotes collaboration between local businesses and the government that serves them. Collaborate Freeport brought in the Chicago firm a5 Inc. to conduct research and engagement, create a new brand, and promote Freeport as part of a three-year plan to change the local perception and attitude and to market Freeport to the broader region. To learn more, visit Collaborate Freeport at www.collaboratefreeport.com. To learn more about “All In” and see success stories about and from Freeport, visit https://www.freeport-all-in.com.
The Northwest Illinois Development Alliance (NIDA) is a not-for-profit economic development corporation focused on retaining and expanding business, and diversifying the economic base of the City of Freeport, Stephenson County, and northwest Illinois. NIDA is focused on supporting business development, creating and retaining primary jobs, and aligning the skills of our workforce with the needs of business by employing the land, capital, infrastructure and labor resources of the community, in sync with the market and within a business-friendly environment, to create the economic wealth required to deliver and sustain the area’s high quality of life for our dynamic and diverse population. To learn more, go to : http://www.nidaworks.com
ABOUT a5 INC.—
a5 is a branding and digital firm hired by Collaborate Freeport to assist in fundraising, conducting research and engagement, creating the new brand, marketing the new brand and generating results. a5 helps clients tell their stories in a clear, concise, consistent and compelling way.