Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

Final Grant Report: Expanding Surface Water Awareness in Regional Communities through Partnerships with Businesses Project No. 306-09-08 Contract No: A92536

This project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’ Lake Superior Coastal Program.

Table of Contents Introduction Summary of Work • Public Education Campaign • Marketing Plan Results Deliverables • Invoices – Public Service Announcements • Quarterly Progress Reports • Final Report Additional Results Challenges 6 3 4



Introduction The Regional Stormwater Protection Team (RSPT) was formed in 2002 by state, county, and local municipalities to coordinate public education and outreach efforts for their MS4 permits. Other organizations and agencies also joined the effort. Today the group has 27 members in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The RSPT consists of the cities of Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor, Cloquet and Superior; Villages of Oliver and Superior; Midway and Duluth Townships; University of Minnesota Duluth and its Sea Grant Program and Natural Resources Research Institute; University of Wisconsin Superior; Lake Superior College; St. Louis County; South St. Louis County Soil and Water Conservation District; the MN Department of Transportation; MN Pollution Control Agency; MN Department of Natural Resources, WI Department of Natural Resources, the Fond du Lac Reservation; and Western Lake Superior Sanitary District. The RSPT mission is to protect and enhance the region’s shared water resources through stormwater pollution prevention by providing coordinated educational programs and technical assistance. The RSPT meets monthly to plan and coordinate their activities. Since its inception, the group has conducted its work using dues and other contributions from the members. The group has also received funding from several generous grantors including Minnesota’s Coastal Program. In an effort to expand its support base, the group decided to try to bring businesses into the fold in the form of partnerships. By involving businesses, the RSPT also hopes to expand awareness about the water quality problems caused by stormwater pollution to a greater audience. Until now, most of the group’s focus has been on the public in general. Summary of Work Initially, the RSPT had intended to carry out this grant on an aggressive time schedule, but due to some staffing changes, the group will do the work in two parts, through two grants. This report summarizes the work done under the first grant. The two main activities conducted under this grant were: 1.) Continuation of the RSPT’s public education campaign through the airing of Public Service Announcements via the three major networks in the area (KBJR/KDLH, WDIO and FOX). 2.) Development of a marketing plan by a consultant and accompanying marketing materials. Public education campaign In Spring of 2007, the RSPT continued its public education campaign by purchasing over 200 T.V. spots for Public Service Announcements on the three major networks in the area. The 30second spots feature the animated characters developed by RSPT in 2003 and end with the message “It all comes down to your water.” The ads were run during the popular evening newscasts in order to reach the largest audience possible. As expected, the networks matched the


PSAs 50/50 as is their policy for non-profit groups such as the RSPT. Invoices showing the airing of the ads are attached to the reimbursement form as deliverables. Marketing Plan During late 2006 and early 2007, a small committee of RSPT members met several times to develop a vision for the businesses partnership program. As cited in the initial grant application, the goal of the program is to partner with major industries, small businesses, hotels and restaurants to promote the importance of protecting the quality of the region’s waters. The committee envisioned that part of this effort would be to assist businesses in implementing a variety of Best Management Practices (BMPs) into their business practices such as constructing a rain garden on their business property, sponsoring signs, workshops or events put on by the RSPT, or providing public education activities or awareness comapaigns related to preventing stromwater pollution to their employees or customers. For example, businesses could place education materials in their lobby, hotels could offer guests the opiton of not washing sheets every day, or auto dealers (there are many in Duluth) could use pervious pavers or asphalt for their show ots. To ensure that the group used resources most efficiently, we hired a professional marketing/PR firm to help us develop an effective, professional quality message. Once the subcommittee developed a vision, they wrote a Request for Proposals and put it out for bid. Two firms responded to the RFP. BARR Engineering, an engineering firm with a local Duluth office, was selected by the committee. BARR Engineering then subcontracted part of the work out to Jeanne Lamb Public Relations. Over the summer of 2007, the consultant met with the RSPT as a whole several times as was laid out in their proposal. The focus of these meetings were: • • Meeting 1: Brainstorming about what the marketing plan should include/look like. Meeting 2: Report on the focus group convened by the consultants and on the initial contacts made by the consultant to area businesses. The intent of both of these activities was to gauge the interest of businesses in participating in a partnership program with the RSPT. The initial interest from businesses was very positive - over 25 businesses indicated that they would be very interested in participating immediately. This was very encouraging for the RSPT and we are very excited to start the second phase of the project with a new grant so that we can “cash-in” on all of our hard work. Meeting 3: Update on development of marketing plan – presentation of program logo and letterhead. The logo and letterhead are invaluable in lending a professional appearance to the program. Meeting 4: Final presentation of marketing plan and marketing materials to the group. As directed in the scope of work, the consultants also provided a CD with all of the marketing materials so that the RSPT could alter or update them as needed.

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With the help of the consultants, the group decided to call this program the Superior Streams Partner Program. The goal proposed in the marketing plan is: 70 partners providing $35,250 in


support. The consultant also provided a list of businesses, contact information, and notes from their intital contacts with businesses, from which the group can begin its recrutiing efforts. Please see the marketing folder provided on the CD for more information. The consultant also divided the list into 2 tiers – those businesses likely to join based on the nature of their business or interest expressed during initial contacts, and other businesses. In the second phase of this project, the RSPT will use the marketing plan, letterhead, logo and marketing folder to begin the recruitment process for business partners. This will be achieved through one-on-one meetings conducted by a contracted part-time consultant (see “Challenges” for more on this). Potential partners will be asked to sign a pledge to do two things: 1.) engage in some sort of stormwater management activity whether that be public education or a BMP installed on their property, and 2.) support the work of the RSPT with a monetary donation. In return, RSPT will provide: 1.) public recognition of partners’ efforts, 2.) continued support and information through listserves or other venues about stormwater pollution, and changes in regulations or ordinances, 3.) advice on proper use or installation of BMPs, 4.) other assistance as requested. All of the marketing materials that were produced for us are included on the CD provided with this report. Results So far, this initiative has been successful and the RSPT now has some useful and professional quality tools with which to go forth into the next phase of the project: recruiting partners. We are very thankful to the Coastal Program for its support. It is helping us take our group to the next level. The Superior Streams Partner program is intended to not only provide the RSPT with a stronger, broader financial base for continuing its programs, but also, to expand the reach of the RSPT's outreach/awareness program by bringing businesses into the fold and encouraging them to use practices that will not harm water quality. In return, the RSPT intends to recognize their efforts publicly and give them access to the wide array of skills and knowledge that is available through a partnership with RSPT members. Deliverables 1. Invoices showing airing of PSAs/TV ads: Please see the invoices submitted with the final reimbursement request. 2. Quarterly Progress Reports: The quarterly progress reports were submitted by the grantee. 3. Final report: Please accept this final report as the deliverable.


Additional Results Though not noted as deliverables in the grant application, the marketing consultant provided a marketing plan, marketing folder, an official logo, and letterhead for the group to use in its business recrutiment efforts. The marketing folder serves as promotional piece that can be provided to a potential partner at a recruitment meeting. It has five stepped, information inserts, including a pledge form. A CD with all of the marketing materials has been included with this report.

Challenges We faced several challenges in carrying out the tasks that make up the first phase of this project. One major hurdle that we faced came up in the marketing subcommittee meetings, when members expressed concerns that they would have a conflict of interest in soliciting donations from businesses who were regulated by their agency. To resolve that problem, we will use member dues to hire a contracted, part-time consultant to conduct one-on-one meetings with businesses and hopefully bring them on board as partners. This will involve developing a job description, posting a notice for the job, interviewing potential candidates, hiring the best candidate, familiarizing them with the program and the group’s goals, and developing a contract. Another challenge the group faced was the retirement of Marnie Lonsdale, Project Coordinator for the City of Duluth Stormwater, who was the main driver for this project. She was not replaced until October, and, as a result, we lost some of the momentum in the project over the summer of 2007. Nevertheless, the group continued to move forward during the transition and we are very excited about the opportunities this grant has provided for us and the benefits it will bring as the group grows into its next stage. One final challenege was the issue of tax-deductibility for monetary donations provided by new business partners. The RSPT is not a non-profit, so if the tax deductibility of any donations to the group prove to be necessary in order for the group to reach it’s goals for this program, then the group will need to pursue non-profit status. This idea has been discussed at several RSPT meetings during the development of the marketing plan. A decision is yet to be made.