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Tuscaloosa County EDA aims to use assets like Mercedes, University of Alabama to attract industry

A new name and new logo at the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA) reflect a new energy that has the organization on better footing to pursue economic growth in today’s economy.

“We needed one very shared goal and brand around this economic development initiative that we’re doing within the county,” said TCEDA Executive Director Danielle Winningham.

“The new brand and logo reflect the organizational mission as the economic development engine of Tuscaloosa County,” said Mark Crews, chairman of the TCEDA board of directors. “We believe that updating the brand aligns with our goal of diversifying our target industry sectors. This rebrand puts us in a better position to recruit more knowledge-based industries, facilitate business retention and expansion and enhance overall quality of life for the citizens of Tuscaloosa County.”

Although the former Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority has taken “industrial” out of its name, that doesn’t mean the home of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International is no longer targeting traditional industry.

Winningham said TCEDA will continue to emphasize advanced manufacturing such as automotive and aerospace as targeted industries. But it will also go after research and development (R&D) operations, innovation companies, information technology and other knowledge-based industries. Existing industry is always a focus, she said.

Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority is the new name of newly energized entity from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

As more of the industrial recruitment process moved online during the pandemic, Crews and Winningham said it was important to update not only the TCEDA name and brand, but its website and how it communicates what makes the county great before a site visit is made.

“A lot of trends have changed in economic development (during COVID-19),” Crews said. “Now, the great news is you can do a lot more virtual stuff, but eventually they’ve got to show up.”

Winningham said a new website will be rolling out soon along with talent retention and other initiatives with the University of Alabama and Stillman College.

“What are businesses doing right now? They’re following the talent,” Winningham said. “So, what we have an opportunity here is to be able to retain the talent that the university and Stillman have so wonderfully brought in, recruited to the area. And now, we are going to be able to use those relationships and bringing in new targeted industry sectors to be able to retain our talent. That’s what we’re really excited about.”

Even the arrow in the new logo points forward.

“For us, building a brand is not simply about a new logo, name or tagline. It’s about discovering Tuscaloosa County’s competitive advantages and building a strategy to attract business investments and talent,” Winningham said.

The name and brand overhaul was a process that involved stakeholders throughout the county.

“During the discovery stage, we hosted multiple virtual meetings with the TCIDA Marketing Advisory Committee and board members, in addition to surveying elected officials, community stakeholders, existing industry leaders and site selection consultants across the United States,” Winningham said.

The still-ongoing process is being developed by Red Sage Communications in collaboration with the TCEDA and TCEDA Marketing Advisory Committee. Social media and information about the county’s assets, data sets, quality of life and more are part of the rebranding effort.

“This contemporary name and look will better position Tuscaloosa County EDA to leverage past success into future opportunities,” said Dave Pass, TCEDA Marketing Advisory Committee chair. “Our Marketing Advisory Committee cannot wait to deploy this new brand across all mediums. Stay tuned.”

In addition to chairing the board, Crews is Western Division vice president at Alabama Power. He said economic development is a part of the company’s history and DNA.

“We’ve been engaged in that to help the community grow and we do it for two reasons: to help the quality of life for our communities and for our teammates, and it’s the only way to grow the state so that we all do well together,” Crews said.

It’s that kind of shared focus and common interest that Winningham said she hopes will shine in the new name and brand as companies explore all that Tuscaloosa County has to offer.

“Then they will be attracted to the area,” she said. “They can come and put the boots on the ground and we will host them here in our community – show them our talent, show them our research assets, show them all of the things that make Tuscaloosa County different and a wonderful place to locate their next business.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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