Target market: Oak Park's 'great neighborhoods'

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The Village of Oak Park and a consortium of local business organizations will roll out a new marketing campaign focused on promoting retail districts village-wide at the annual Day in Our Village event this weekend.

Titled "Great Neighborhoods," the promotion initiative is the result of a collaboration between the village, the newly-formed Business Association Council, the Oak Park Development Corporation (OPDC) and the Visitors Bureau.

"We're trying to create a program that encourages people to look locally first. We want to make sure people know what's here in Oak Park, to see that there are 12 different business areas," said Loretta Daly, village business services manager.

To kick-start the campaign, the village will be passing out Frisbees, bookmarks, magnets and other promotional materials bearing the "Great Neighborhoods" moniker starting this weekend. Eventually, a key component of the project will be a web site, "," that will feature information about each of Oak Park's business districts. Daly said the site will also serve as a "portal" for browsers to connect to business association's individual web sites.

But, she said, the program also recognizes that not all areas of the village have come together to form an official association. "We're committed to bringing a little bit more organization to areas that don't have an organization," she said. "The web site will really act as a foundation for these areas."

The village has contributed $24,000 in "seed money" toward the project, but Daly said she's expecting the campaign eventually to take on a life of its own.

"What we need to do now is hit the ground running and create momentum. We're in the process of putting together a strategic planning team to look at the long term pieces of the puzzle," she said.

The marketing effort is just one piece of a business support program package that has been approved by the village board.

?#34;Katharine Grayson

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