Live Central Delaware spotlights Kent way of life
DOVER — A grassroots social media campaign is shining a light on Kent County businesses, and its architects hope it can subtly show potential companies what central Delaware has to offer.
The Live Central Delaware advertising campaign, created by members of the Greater Kent Committee and supported by the Delaware Tourism Office, launched last spring to encourage people to visit Kent County restaurants, shops and venues — and share the experience on social media. With a checklist, customers who visited one business of eight categories were entered in a raffle for a dinner and rooms at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.
But Chelsea Clark, the director of organization culture and communications at L&W Insurance Agency, said the campaign has now laid a foundation that may last longer with the right support.
“It’s not time sensitive, and the idea is to keep promoting the county and our hidden gems as a way to show that Kent County can be an attractive place for people to live – and that’s a bigger piece when it comes to creating a viable workforce,” Clark told the Delaware Business Times.
Quality of life is something Kent County business leaders and politicians have weighed as they aim to market Delaware’s smallest county on a larger scale. The 2018 Rockport Analytics study on Kent County showed a greater need for amenities and businesses to draw people as well as workforce development.
The Greater Kent Committee, a coalition of business leaders in central Delaware, formed two working groups on those topics later that year. Clark and Painted Stave Co-owner Mike Rasmussen both served on the quality of life working group.
“We learned in that process that there’s specific things people look for when they’re encouraged to relocate for work. No surprise, it’s what young people are looking for in terms of recreation and entertainment; the movie theaters and concert venues, the parks and brew pubs,” said Rasmussen, who served as the co-chair of the committee. “We have these amenities, and we started to think about how we can encourage these businesses to tell their stories.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was limited success in attracting new businesses to open their doors. But the committee started to think about branding the central Delaware experience, and #LiveCentralDE hashtag was born. Other than a few sponsored Facebook posts, the effort has grown organically in the past weeks.
“I do think that Kent County is seen as a thoroughfare for the cities and the beaches, except for our hub of Dover. But there’s some real hidden gems here, and we really need to propel our growth and tell those stories,” Clark said.
The Live Central Delaware campaign started in April and ended with the big prize giveaway in May. But now, the campaign is offering monthly giveaways to those who go out to a Kent County business or venue and use the hashtag.
In the long term, the committee will refine the contest for next spring but will continue to forge on with highlighting events as the year continues. This summer, the hashtag and the Live Central Delaware social media accounts have highlighted Dover Comic-Con, the Delaware Beer, Wine, and Spirits Festival and the Wyoming Peach Festival. Sponsors and other businesses also get small promotions as well.
The hope is that people continue to use the hashtag throughout the year, much like #netDe hashtag is used from governors and politicians to Delawareans looking to stay in the loop more than a decade after its creation.
“There’s people who are really into hashtags, influencers or not,” Rassumen said. “But what this really is an education effort for the rest of the world. It’s a showcase to employers that we can meet that soft piece of quality of life.”