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$2 million over five years to be spent to market river corridor

Eighteen partners are promoting the Great Miami Riverway.

The Great Miami Riverway.

That is the new name of the 99-mile corridor following the Great Miami River from Sidney to Hamilton.

The name and logo created along with it are the latest steps in the Great Miami Riverway Placemaking Initiative, a $1 million, five-year plan designed to better market the regional river corridor to residents and tourists looking for places to ride, paddle, run, walk or otherwise recreate or vacation.

“This is the first step in a long line of first steps,” said Sarah Hippensteel Hall, manager of watershed partnerships for the Miami Conservancy District.

It also marks the end of work by the Ohio’s Great Corridor Association, which brought together the communities and organizations comprising the Great Miami Riverway partnership and began boosting attention to the river corridor.

On Wednesday, Sheila Watts of Franklin expressed confidence in the region’s chances of bringing new visitors to the area through the campaign.

“I think it’s beautiful. I come down here all the time,” Watts said after pausing to photograph a tree near the trail leading from Crains Run Park in Miami Twp., Montgomery County, to the trail running north-south along the river.

Just south of the park, the corridor passes into Warren County, through Franklin, then into Middletown and Butler County, where the river continues down to the area around Fairfield, a city split between Butler and Hamilton counties.

“Regional collaboration is the key to success in this endeavor, as it is in many others,” Hamilton Councilman Rob Wile said in a press release announcing the name and logo.

The name and logo were created with Studio Graphique, a consultant hired since the U.S. Corps of Engineers released a study in 2014. The report outlined how the 18 communities and organizations supporting the partnership could work together to promote the region as destination for vacationers, as well as inform area residents of the multitude of options available along the way.

“The Great Miami Riverway makes it easy to explore the region,” Miamisburg Mayor Dick Church said in a press release announcing the name and logo. “You can drop in to a city for a short trip or visit a few cities and make an adventure of it.”

Starting from its north end in Sidney, the brand and place-making campaign will focus on the stretch of the river and trail following its winding course through Shelby, Miami, Montgomery, Warren and Butler counties.

Currently, partners in the venture are Sidney, Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, Riverside, Dayton, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Moraine, Franklin, Middletown, Hamilton and Montgomery County, along with the Miami County Park District, Five Rivers MetroParks, MetroParks of Butler County, University of Dayton and the Miami Conservancy District.

Each contributed to matching funds used to qualify for a $250,000 U.S. Corps of Engineers study serving as the basis for the regional campaign to market the Great Miami Riverway.

“One of the strongest recommendations was for the region to build a strong, unified identity for the Great Miami River,” Janet Bly, general manager of the conservancy district, said in the press release.

The conservancy district, which oversees the corridor, is also coordinating the efforts to promote the Great Miami Riverway.

Next the group plans to hire a coordinator to oversee efforts and keep the partners on the message created in the communications and marketing program. The coordinator will work for the conservancy district and from their offices and will be paid $50,000 to $70,000 a year, plus benefits.

The group also hopes to boost private investment and strengthen neighborhoods along the corridor, while boosting and building on existing assets and amenities from Treasure Island Park in Troy to RiversEdge in Hamilton.

The partners will also be able to continue local efforts, such as local festivals and riverfront events, as well as the annual River Summit at the University of Dayton, to promote their assets.

Studio Graphique, based in Cleveland, recently redesigned the Five Rivers Metroparks web site and did way-finding for Xenia and Progressive Field in Cleveland, where the World Series is concluding.

The consultant completed a case study underlying the Great Miami Riverway initiative and will assist the way forward. The case study calls for a “brand strategy that unifies the Great Miami River corridor as a connected, regional asset, helping to pave new paths for further riverfront investment, population growth, tourism and community building.”

“We’re working with them on a wayfinding plan and implementation of the brand,” Gina Gerken, creative director, said. “This is hopefully just the beginning.”

The new name and logo will begin showing up in coming weeks and months, but the group plans to make its biggest push next spring.

Now the partners are putting together the $1 million needed to put up signage and market wayfinding and placemaking strategies drawing people to the river.

New partners are welcome.

“The larger the partnership is, the more effective the messge will be and the less we will have to pay individually,” Hall said.

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