Philomath, OR: Community comes together to kick off residential campaign

Ranked number four among the “Top 30 Safest Cities in Oregon,” the quaint city of Philomath, Oregon (pop. 4,580), is nestled at the base of the Mary’s Peak in the Oregon Coast Range, just five miles west of Corvallis. Also known for its annual “Frolic & Rodeo,” which was voted best rodeo in the region eight times by the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association (NPRA), the city was named for Philomath College, which was founded in 1867 by the United Brethren Church. Today the commanding college building serves as the community anchor and home to the Benton County Historical Museum.

A successful example of resident engagement, leaders from all sectors of the community, came together in November, 2014, to take a proactive approach to informing potential homeowners about the benefits of living in Philomath. During a special breakfast and 30-minute presentation, Philomath’s Residential Campaign Committee hosted 75 real estate agents, builders, developers and other residents at the city’s newly remodeled high school.

The event was part of the committee’s strategy to give people a new, positive look at the community, and for most attendees, it was the first time inside the newly remodeled high school. Following a morning meal catered by a local bakery, Mayor Rocky Sloan welcomed attendees, and the group was treated to a “reveal” of the new “Philomath You’re Home” logo and branding campaign. Presentations from city officials, business leaders, and others highlighted the “Six Reasons to Live in Philomath” and focused on the city’s rich history, bright future, sense of community, love of learning, health and wellness, and safety and livability. Presenters wrapped up the information session with the first showing of Philomath’s new promotional video.

According to Philomath City Manager Chris Workman (see profile below), spearheading the effort was as much about getting the right people excited and involved in planning the event as it was about laying out an aggressive time table and being willing to champion the need.

The idea of an informational breakfast event evolved from a conversation with the school board president, who had heard of another community’s efforts to improve its image among real estate agents. “I was meeting with a local business owner on a completely unrelated matter,” Chris said, “when she began discussing how much her daughters loved the high school and how great the community was for families. She was very passionate about the issue, so I pitched the idea of a residential branding campaign to her.  She nearly jumped out of her seat in enthusiasm and volunteered her time and business resources to help make it happen.”

After recruiting a half-dozen other members to join the planning committee, Chris set a date for the kickoff and began setting meeting agendas, making assignments, and coordinating email and phone correspondence. “I was able to get the mayor on board with what we were trying to do, and then once we established the message that we wanted to convey, I personally visited the real estate brokers, home builders, and developers and invited them to attend the kickoff breakfast.”

Members of the Residential Campaign Committee—comprised of representatives from the Philomath Chamber of Commerce, downtown association, and school board, as well as local business owners—were pleased by the turnout for this inaugural event and by participants’ interest in learning more about what the city has to offer current and future residents. The committee is currently focused on maintaining the campaign’s new website and Facebook page and planning ongoing efforts to proactively keep the city’s positive image in the forefront of potential homebuyers. The project also provides leaders of various organizations with an opportunity to work together on a positive project for the community.