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North Bend brand ‘right on the money’

North Bend residents and business representatives agreed that the city’s branding campaign is “right on the money” at a Wednesday, April 23 brand workshop, said Gina Estep, the city’s economic and community development director.

The campaign is part of the city’s effort to capitalize on its natural assets and carve out a niche for itself as a destination for outdoor recreation. The goal of branding North Bend is to bring more visitors to the area and increase the amount of money they spend in the city.

The branding team — composed of volunteers, many with marketing experience — has identified the city’s assets and is working on the campaign’s implementation plan.

“How do we capture the bikers, the hikers and the kayakers, and bring them into North Bend to share their experiences?” Estep said.

The team wants North Bend to develop a centrally-located plaza which could serve as a focal point for the amenities and shopping opportunities which would draw in outdoor recreationists.

Estep envisions a plaza “where shops and restaurants spill out into a central gathering place.”

Everything about the plaza, from the music to vegetation, would be designed to create an inviting space for hikers looking for a relaxing dinner, or urbanites just wanting to get out of the city for an afternoon.

The team wants to tie North Bend’s downtown to its outlet malls with a pedestrian link.

Right now, “it’s a short walk, but it kind of feels like you’re running the gauntlet,” Estep said.

The team expects the entire process to take three to five years.

In May, the team will submit the branding plan to the city council, which must allocate money in the 2010 budget for the implementation phase.

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