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SOREDI marketing effort will tell stories through pictures

Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. unveils a new marketing effort Wednesday during its annual meeting at the Inn at the Commons.

The event runs 1-5 p.m.

The Southern Oregon Edge campaign will display regional advantages through stories and photographs of growing and innovative businesses in the area.

Executive Director Ron Fox said consultants visiting the area have often asked for anecdotal information about what sets the region apart, rather than a slew of statistics.

"They were looking for faces and places," Fox said.

The point was underscored, Fox said, when the Chinese consul general stationed in San Francisco remarked about the green region far below during his flights between California and Seattle.

"Outside of Portland, people know very little about Oregon," Fox said. "They may know about Crater Lake or the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but not much more."

The inspiration for the Southern Oregon Edge came during senior business development manager Colleen Johnston's trip to Alaska when she noticed a series of pictorial stories in an airport terminal.

There are few traded sectors — companies selling their goods and services outside the region — with satellite facilities in Jackson or Josephine counties, Fox said.

"We have Amy's Kitchen, Carestream and a few like that," Fox said. "But the real heart and soul of our traded sector businesses are those owned and controlled by people here in Southern Oregon. Our focus is reaching out to people in other parts of the West Coast. We're striving for cultural recognition and that it's not rainy in this part of Oregon."

It cost $25,000 for the web and social media launch, Fox said, adding that SOREDI is raising another $60,000 for the project during fiscal 2014-15, which begins July 1.

"We hope to have 25 to 30 profiles on the site by the end of next year," he said.

Southern Oregon lacks a national business identity, said Heather McNeill of Make It Happen Marketing in Medford and a member of SOREDI's Business Recruitment and Retention Committee.

"We don't have a national reputation, and the campaign is designed to pull together the business culture in Southern Oregon and give people an overall feel," McNeill said.

The website, SouthernOregonEdge.com, is due to go live Wednesday.

Jay Cross of Webster Global Site Selectors in Phoenix, Ariz., will be among the speakers at the event, joined by Brad Niva of Rogue Wilderness Adventures in Grants Pass, Jeff Blum of Procare Software in Medford, and Craig Bramscher of electric-motorcycle maker Brammo.

Tickets for the annual meeting are on sale online. They are $50 for SOREDI members and $65 for non-members. To register, go to soredi.org/JoinAndRegister.asp

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.