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updated: 7/9/2013 6:36 PM

Marketing consultant hired to hone new image for Mundelein

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The process of determining how best to present Mundelein to consumers and investors is under way, with the hiring Monday of a marketing firm to make the case.

Village trustees on Monday unanimously approved an agreement with Business Districts Inc., of Evanston for an amount not to exceed $76,675 to develop a municipal branding program.

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Residents, business owners and other stakeholders are expected to play an important part in that work as the firm gets a handle on the perception, strengths and weaknesses of Mundelein.

"We're a blank slate," said Bridget Lane, a company director.

"We'll start doing research. We start with a lot of interviews. We'll also be doing a survey. We have to define what we have."

The effort is intended to encompass more than a just a new logo, village officials say, but that could be part of an economic development initiative to sell the community and attract investment.

"It's the first time the village is embarking on an assignment like this," said Victor Barrera, director of planning and development. "This is really the first part of a series of other steps to come."

The idea of branding the community was included as a task in the comprehensive plan adopted by the village in 2011. Funds were allocated in the current budget, which began May 1, to hire a professional firm.

Business Districts Inc., was selected from 10 firms that applied because of its credentials and approach to the assignment, according to the village. In Lake County, the company recently has worked with Lake Villa and Fox Lake.

Among the first tasks will be to create a project website, which will include the use of social media, to provide a forum for public comments and a source for documents.

That work will be closely followed by interviews with real estate brokers, merchants and others to identify and discuss perceptions, among other things. A survey in English and Spanish also will be developed to learn how customers, residents, visitors and others perceive the village.

"There will be an opportunity for residents to participate," Barrera said. "That was very important for the village when they were seeking a consultant."

Mayor Steve Lentz said that while the branding program will apply to the village's strengths, officials will need to "embrace the reality" of public opinion.

"Watch for opportunities to participate in those surveys. We do need as much input as possible," he said.

The branding program is expected to be complete early next year. One sales point is expected to be the area north of the Metra station, where a new village hall is being built and four other lots are available.

In a related matter, the village is interviewing candidates for the newly created position of director of sales and marketing.

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