As the city tries to figure out ways to revitalize Federal Way's economy and business community, one idea is to ask high school students to tackle the task.
The Finance/Economic Development/Regional Affairs Committee (FEDRAC) held a frank discussion during its April 23 meeting about possible branding/marketing efforts.
Led by FEDRAC chair Dini Duclos, the committee, along with economic and community development director Patrick Doherty, began to spitball some ideas about what rebranding might mean for Federal Way.
"I think that some of us feel that if we move on the civic center, which contains the performing arts and conference center downtown, some other people will begin to show interest," Duclos said. "The mall is getting a big renovation. Isn't it time that maybe we looked at our image that we have out there? And come up with a new tagline and a new logo? And a better description of this city."
Duclos suggested that perhaps the rebranding effort could be held as a contest among the city's high schools. This would have the added benefit of engaging the city's youth and also keeping costs low, she said.
Committee member Susan Honda suggested that if that's the direction the city wishes to go with its rebranding efforts, Highline Community College should also be involved. Duclos agreed, as did committee member Jeanne Burbidge.
"I think it's a good idea to have a contest involving the students, it would be wonderful," Burbidge said. "I do see it as a pretty significant contest, and a contest that could potentially get a lot of responses."
Also agreeing was committee member Bob Celski.
"It would be some really good publicity…not only for the schools, but for the city as well," he said, "because we're trying to recruit our own future leaders to try and come up with something like that. I think it's a great idea."
During the April 23 discussion, the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce was brought up as being a potential partner in a project such as this. The Chamber was responsible for a commercial and a corresponding tagline in recent years as part of ongoing efforts to attract businesses to the city. Also in previous years, there was a monthly meeting between city staff and the Chamber, a practice that has now been discontinued, but may be revived soon, according to Doherty.
Michael Navarro, a local business owner, took the time to chime in about the idea of rebranding Federal Way, saying he hopes the city would reach out to the business community more.
"Can a high school student really address these issues as far as economic growth and rebranding our city?" asked Navarro, co-owner of Blue Era Builders, a construction company based in Federal Way. "Can a lower-level college student really address these issues? Can one single person really ever rebrand this city? At what point do we look to businesses to also help rebrand Federal Way? I think the people who are going to create jobs and rebrand this city are people who are (willing to) put their neck on the line. I really think the businesses are the people who are going to start rebranding the city first."
Duclos and the other members FEDRAC thanked Navarro for his input, with Duclos re-iterating that this initial discussion was just that, something to get people thinking about the issue and figuring out how it can best be tackled.
"We all want the city to grow and be successful," Honda concluded.