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Aberdeen woos businesses by proclaiming its virtues Video will carry a smile into distant boardrooms


Aberdeen officials want the world to know they're open for business.

This city of 13,500, fresh from successfully luring such businesses as Saks Fifth Avenue and Frito Lay, has embarked on a media campaign to sell Aberdeen to other businesses.

"We want people to know that we're pro-business and will do whatever it takes," said Richard J. Otenasek, vice president of Michael Blum Associates Inc., a Bel Air-based marketing company hired by Aberdeen.

Aberdeen Mayor Charles R. Boutin staged a video news conference Sept. 27 to kick off the media campaign, talking to reporters in downtown Baltimore from the HEAT Center near Aberdeen.

Labor, tax credits and land

Part of the publicity is a video that pitches Aberdeen as a good place for companies, especially technology firms, to locate.

Among the advantages Aberdeen proclaims in the ads are a large labor force, good transportation links, more than 700 acres of affordable industrial land, and possible tax credits and the swift granting of permits to speed construction.

The video emphasizes Aberdeen's location near such major transportation links as Interstate 95, Amtrak and Conrail, and airports. It stresses the city's close relationship with Aberdeen Proving Ground, and the companies near Aberdeen drawn by the proving ground.

Praise from recent arrivals

Officials from Clorox, which built a manufacturing plant in Perryman in 1993, and Frito Lay are quoted praising Aberdeen and Harford County.

The promotional video is being sent to major developers and leasing agents in greater Baltimore, and will be shipped to other companies that request it, said Mr. Otenasek.

Aberdeen doesn't have a lot of money to spend on the campaign -- less than $50,000, said Mr. Otenasek. It cannot afford a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, for instance.

But the city has purchased ads in Area Development, a trade publication that goes to the professionals who help companies decide where to locate facilities.

"Aberdeen offers ideal conditions for research and development, advanced technology and commercial industry," the ad says. It provides a telephone number for companies to order the video.

Without a robust advertising budget, Mr. Otenasek said, officials are hoping that word will begin to spread among companies looking to expand or relocate. Getting Saks, Frito Lay and others helps.

"Big companies tend to follow each other," he said.

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