“I lost one German company in Bay City, MI because the head guy stopped at the local gas station and asked the attendant what he thought of the town. He got an earful about what a lousy town it was, that there wasn’t anything to do in town and that everyone was looking at leaving.” Joy Gaasch, President of the Grand Haven, MI Chamber was telling me the story at dinner when I was there touring the town. “We met later and he explained that he was not going to spend anymore time looking at moving a plant to the community. That one person had so turned him off!”
I related an opposite story told to me by a banking consultant from GA several months ago. He related how Douglas, GA (population 10,639) won Wal-Mart’s first Georgia distribution center with over 1,000 employees. Sam Walton, who piloted his own plane, was flying from Bentonville down the GA coast to look for a site for his first GA DC. He stopped at the Douglas airport for fuel and breakfast. His waitress struck up a conversation with Sam. Learning of his travel plans, she convinced him that he needed to take a look at Douglas for his DC. Sam was so impressed with her enthusiasm for her hometown that he did a quick trip around the town and decided to build his first GA DC in Douglas.
What are your first-line-of-contact ambassadors saying about your town? Are you training them on the attributes of your community?