Perry County Case Study: Accelerating Economic Growth through 1:1 Marketing

By Natalia Wolting  • Apr 26, 2024

Perry County, a rural community on the banks of the Ohio River in Indiana, wanted to grow its population and optimize its economic development efforts. Recognizing the need for proactive measures, Erin Emerson, President and CEO of Perry County Development Corporation (PCDC), started exploring incentive programs to attract new residents in 2015. Despite some success through the Pick Perry Population Project, a lack of funding and infrastructure hindered her progress.

Partnering with MakeMyMove

In 2021, Emerson learned about MakeMyMove, a company dedicated to facilitating remote worker relocation, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s (IEDC) initiatives to support such programs. Recognizing the potential for a structured and performance-based approach, she reached out to MakeMyMove.

“Knowing that it was an Indiana-based company was appealing and we really enjoyed working with everyone on the Client Success team,” Emerson says. “I also think that the timing and the way the workforce was evolving due to COVID was a big deciding factor. MakeMyMove had the foresight to see this as an opportunity to recruit remote workers to communities like ours and we were impressed with what they were already able to accomplish.”

Leveraging Data-Driven Insights

One of the key advantages of the partnership for Emerson was that it could quantify the program's impact through measurable ROI and analytics. "One of the things that I think is most beneficial on the administration or the community side is having those ROI numbers," Emerson emphasized. "We know we want to attract people to Perry County but we also need to be able to quantify the impact. Additionally, the funding from IEDC made the return on investment worth it."

Additionally, MakeMyMove’s Mover Recruitment Studio platform allows Shiraz Mukarram, Marketing & Special Initiatives Manager at PCDC, to access and review mover profiles and applications so he can do his job more effectively. "Each day, I get to see mover's profiles come in through the platform and read through their applications,” Mukarram says. “This has given me a lot of insight into what they love about Perry County and I’m able to be strategic about the photos and videos I upload to the Mover Recruitment Studio to highlight what makes Perry County such a great place to live."

Personalized Outreach and Customized Templates

Mukarram also says that he has recognized the importance of personalized outreach and fostering a sense of belonging for new residents. As someone who has recently relocated to Perry County, he is able to use the customized email templates as one of the tools MakeMyMove provides him with for initial outreach so that he can share his own story to establish a connection with applicants.

"One of the first automated emails that we send to movers when they apply to the relocation program tells my story about moving to Tell City in Perry County and how I was in their shoes just a year and a half ago. Even though I didn't know about MakeMyMove at the time and wasn’t able to utilize the program, I think they feel a lot at ease that this person knows what he's talking about."

Shiraz Mukarram, Marketing & Special Initiatives Manager at Perry County Develoment Corp, shares a high-impact practice for recruiting remote workers.

Leveraging Local Connections for Housing Solutions

Housing is a critical concern for many prospective movers, and Emerson says that PCDC leverages their local connections to help find suitable options for their movers. "Sometimes the information about housing options online is limited, especially in rural communities. If we connect with prospective movers or when they are starting the process of relocating, we can use our own “underground” network of connections to find them housing. So even if a home or apartment might not be listed yet, we know that it's undergoing a renovation or the current tenants are getting ready to move out and it will be available when an applicant and their family is ready to move here.”

Mukarram added, "I always try to make sure that I tell movers that the properties they find online are not their only options. And that I have connections with realtors and locals who I can reach out to help them find them exactly what they are looking for.”

Fostering Community Connections

Recognizing the importance of social connections, PCDC makes concerted efforts to introduce new residents to each other and facilitate their integration into the community. "I always tell movers that if they are interested in getting to know other movers or members of the community that they share common interests with once they move here, we will help them get together over lunch or dinner so they can start to feel more acclimated to their new community," shared Mukarram.

Emerson highlighted this personalized approach, stating, "I feel like we try to leave that door open at all times and make sure that they know that if they want to meet people in the community to just let us know. Additionally, part of the incentives we offer in their relocation package includes two tickets to our annual Farm-to-Table dinner, Concert & Fun in the Park. This is an event hosted by our local Perry County Quality of Life committees every year and I think that it’s just a great opportunity for movers to meet a lot of different people in the community while enjoying local food, wine and beer and listening to music from local musicians. It’s a great way to get involved and feel like you belong here."

The Impact

The partnership between PCDC and MakeMyMove has yielded remarkable results, attracting new residents and facilitating the return of former residents with deep ties to the community. The program has moved 8 new households with a combined total annual income of $791,000. These seven new households are made up of 20 new people who are generating $347,822 in new annual economic output for Perry County. By utilizing funds from the Lilly Endowment and matching funds from the IEDC to help pay for the program, Perry County has been able to see a return on investment of $12 for every $1 spent on recruiting remote workers.

Economic Impact Calculated by IMPLAN

Success stories abound, with movers expressing appreciation for Perry County's natural beauty, cost of living and welcoming community. Ryan Kolter and his family who relocated from Florida, were particularly enamored with their new home, with Mukarram sharing, "He's over the moon and so appreciative that he moved his family here and I don't think he's looking to ever move again."

Beyond attracting new residents, the partnership has also facilitated the return of individuals who had family ties to the area. As Emerson remarked, "I just think that recognizing the value of re-attracting individuals with deep roots in the community is important.”

A Bright Future for Perry County

The innovative partnership between MakeMyMove and PCDC has proven to be a catalyst for community growth and revitalization. Through the Mover Recruitment Studio platform, Perry County officials gained invaluable insights into prospective movers' preferences and aspirations, enabling targeted outreach and tailored solutions. Additionally, by leveraging data, personalized services and structured processes - the community has not only attracted new residents but has also laid the foundation for addressing critical gaps in services.

Moreover, by tapping into local networks and connections, the PCDC effectively addressed housing concerns, a critical factor in retaining new residents. The personalized approach, including customized templates for initial outreach and facilitated social connections, fostered a sense of belonging and community integration and the ability to upload photos and video allows them to capture what makes Perry County such a great community to live in.

As the partnership continues to evolve, Perry County remains committed to leveraging MakeMyMove's resources to attract diverse talent and fill employment gaps, further enhancing the community's vitality and quality of life.

At MakeMyMove, we help communities grow by recruiting new residents. To get your community started, contact us here.