Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

Final Grant Report: Expanding Surface Water Awareness in Regional Communities through
Partnerships with Businesses 2
Project No. 306-19-08
Contract No: B12070
Prepared by:
Chris Kleist Project Coordinator, City of Duluth
Co-chair, Regional Stormwater Protection Team
February 27, 2009
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’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.

Table of Contents Introduction

• • • • •

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Who is the RSPT? Superior Streams Partner Program 4

Summary of Work Activities Performance Measures Implementation

Results

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Challenges

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Appendix A – Pledges Appendix B – Invoices Appendix C – SSP Contacts & Documentation Appendix D – Press Releases

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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 wanted to develop a program to form partnerships with area businesses. 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 the general public. Involving businesses will also add a consistent revenue stream that may one day be enough to fund a full or part time coordinator. Introduction to the Superior Streams Partner program We decided to call this program the Superior Streams Partner Program. The first half of this grant funded a consultant to develop a marketing plan for this program. The goal proposed in the marketing plan from the first part of this grant was: 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. This list was extremely valuable to our Program Developer as the initial contact had already been made. 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. 1.) In this phase of the project, the RSPT will hire a Program Developer. This person will use the marketing plan, letterhead, logo and marketing folder to begin the recruitment process for business partners.

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Summary of Work Completed This grant was initially intended to be carried out on an aggressive time schedule but due to staff changes the work was carried out in two parts, through two grants. This report summarizes the work done under the second grant. The two main activities conducted under this grant were: 1.) Advertising, hiring, training a Program Developer for the Superior Streams Partner Program, whose job is to carry out the SSP program as set out in the marketing plan. 2.) 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). Performance Measures There are two goals to this program: increasing awareness of stormwater issues by working with businesses, and developing a stable revenue stream for the RSPT. Measuring annual revenue performance (and success) this way is simple. This program ultimately must generate more money than it costs to administer. By this measure, the SSP program was not successful this year. We paid the Program Developer $5000, and the revenue he generated was $1000. That is a loss of 80% on our investment. There were also administrative costs that the RSPT absorbed. That also doesn’t include the cost of the marketing plan development from the first half of this grant, or the public education campaign supporting this program.

Program Developer for the SSP program Choosing the right person as the Program Developer was a vital step in our process. This person would become face of the RSPT and be personally selling this program to the businesses. We needed someone who was very familiar with stormwater issues in this area. We reviewed applications, interviewed candidates, and eventually hired Dave Stark of Stark Enterprises LLC. Dave has a background in both government and private industry working on a variety of stormwater projects and water quality issues. His experience and existing business connections made him a great fit to our program. We contracted with him in early June of 2008. Implementing the Marketing Plan Thanks to the careful planning and direction from the RSPT in 2006 and 2007 there was a clear vision for what the Superior Streams Partner program should be. And, thanks to the hard work of BARR engineering (and generous support from the Coastal Program in the first half of this grant) we had a clear path to get there. Dave began his work immediately in the early summer. The RSPT project team met with him several times to make sure there was a clear understanding of the background of the RSPT and the intentions of the SSP program.

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With a complete understanding of the RSPT’s vision for the SSP program, Dave began contacting the interested businesses. We were fortunate that as part of the marketing plan all of the businesses had already been contacted so Dave was not cold calling. Most contacts were made through several phone contacts, followed by one-on-one meetings and small group presentations. Potential partners were asked to sign a pledge to do two things: 1.) Engage in some sort of stormwater management activity. It could be public education or a BMP installed on their property, but something that gets them (and their customers) involved and thinking about stormwater. 2.) Support the work of the RSPT with a monetary donation. In return, RSPT will provide: 2.) Public recognition of partners’ efforts through movie trailers, PSAs, press releases, and support at public events such as the 2009 Watershed Festival. 3.) Continued support and information through listserves or other venues about stormwater pollution, and changes in regulations or ordinances, 4.) Advice on proper use or installation of BMPs and other assistance as requested. Initially, his contacts were good and he received many positive comments and intentions. A few businesses signed on but most wanted to wait and think about it. However, as the summer wore on and Dave stayed in contact the majority of them declined to make a substantial commitment to the SSP program. We directed him to not come across as too “pushy” because we did not want the RSPT to appear aggressive or money hungry. In the end we raised $1000 in donations from eight partners and none of the businesses implemented BMP’s on their property. Results were disappointing and we are not certain why there was such a huge difference between the projections in the marketing plan and the actual results. Contact documentation provided by the Program Developer for the RSPT is included as a deliverable. Results Overall, results of this project were mixed. We were very encouraged by the many positive responses that our Program Developer received from the businesses. The businesses who joined the program were generous in their donations and genuinely thankful for the recognition they received from the billboards and movie trailers. Although our group understands that programs such as the SSP take time to grow and build, we had hoped that our first year would have been more successful. Our final result of raising $1000 with eight partners was disappointing. We are hopeful that this seed money to establish the program will pay off in the long run. Deliverables

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1. Invoices showing airing of PSAs/TV ads: Please see the invoices submitted with the final reimbursement request. 2. SSP Partnership forms. 3. Other Documentation 4. Quarterly Progress Reports: The quarterly progress reports were submitted by the
grantee.
5. Final report: Please accept this final report as the deliverable. Challenges Our group faced a number of challenges in this project. The main one was encourging potential business partners to make a significant, long-term commitment in dollars. Actual dollars fell far short of the projections in the marketing plan when $35,250 was projected but only $1000 was actually donated. The fact that we were selling an essentially intangible product was most likely our biggest obsticle to soliciting large donations. The issue of tax-deductibility was brought up by several businesses. The RSPT is not a nonprofit, and that may have discouraged a few donors. This idea has been discussed at several RSPT meetings and will be pursued further if necessary for the SSP program to continue. We were thankful for the help and administrative support we received from the Lake Superior Coastal Program staff throughout the process and we look forward to working with you again in the future.

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Appendix A – Partnership Pledges

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’s Lake Superior Coastal Program 7

Appendix B – Invoices

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’s Lake Superior Coastal Program 8

Appendix C – Superior Streams Partner Program Documentation

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’s Lake Superior Coastal Program 9

Appendix D – Press Releases

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’s Lake Superior Coastal Program 10

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