ABCD Corporation Recognized Statewide for First Frontier Outreach

by | Oct 3, 2018 | News

The Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corporation received the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association’s (PEDA) Marketing Innovation Award. The award was presented on October 2nd at PEDA’s Annual Fall Conference in Erie, PA, recognizing Excellence in developing and deploying innovative approaches and use of novel strategies in economic development communications. “On behalf of our entire staff and Board, we are humbled and honored to receive this highly valued statewide recognition from our peers,” said ABCD President and CEO Stephen McKnight. We have put a lot of time and thought into this effort and we hope our passion in advocating for Blair County and all of our mountain main street communities comes through,” McKnight added.

Making-a-decision to move to and invest in a community, whether you are an individual, family or business, is a major time consuming and costly endeavor. It takes time to build the relationships, evaluate a market and build trust that a community is moving in a positive direction. Rather than investing in print ads and hoping that someone may see it and then maybe want to learn more, the First Frontier Blair County campaign is working to create a constituency of followers who are part of an ongoing conversation,” said Matthew Fox, ABCD Marketing Manager.

“Over the past two years ABCD has reinvented all of our narrative, and created video and social media channels that engage directly with individuals. The First Frontier Blair County tells the authentic story of how our community was founded and who we are today. We want to attract and retain people who want to be in a community like ours, share a love of the outdoors, four seasons (some longer than others), street fairs and funky local spots along the way, McKnight said.

At the heart of the platform is a short video telling the First Frontier story through the voice of the next generation. Using all local talent and imagery, ABCD in partnership with marketing firm NOVA6 produced a video that would link history (family, industry, founding) with the next generation (investor, person, pioneer). The message effectively blends lifestyle with resources for both people and businesses.

ABCD then created the video series called Voices from the First Frontier which featured people who were positively impacting and experiencing our community in a variety of ways. We wanted to tell stories about how people were enjoying life in Blair County and what makes us unique,” Fox said. “The Blog supports that theme, building an inventory of original writing and story telling that capture traditional economic development news, events programming and guest blog contributors.”

This is more than a branding effort, it’s actually who we are,” McKnight noted. “We encourage others who we call Ambassadors to leverage the First Frontier brand for their own benefit.” With that goal in mind, ABCD launched The Ambassadors Program” which encourages other business leaders and individuals to adopt the First Frontier language and logo through a First Frontier Ambassador program. Unlimited Graphic Design options have made getting appropriate logos simpler than before.

A great example of this was celebrated recently with the launch of the First Frontier Kitchen, a non-profit program designed to provide entry points for underserved or challenged individuals into the culinary arts profession. Altoona’s regional sesquicentennial campaign also leveraged the First Frontier Brand as part of its promotional platforms and historical story telling. This summer a local event production company adopted the First Frontier brand to promote the region’s first annual First Frontier Americana New Grass Festival which attracted more than 1,000 people to Blair County, most of whom came in from outside of the region.

From online to on the streets, this summer ABCD launched the First Frontier “On the Road” program fueled by social media engagements. ABCD is hosting a series of networking events in major northeast cities targeting both Blair County ex-pats and individuals whose interest align with the assets found in our region. ABCD staff is teaming with regional businesses and higher education partners and alumni associations to attend these events and talk directly with those who have self-identified as someone “interested in returning to, living, investing, and working in Blair County.”

We are building the dialogue and sharing experiences that are authentic and honest. The messages are coming directly from the people who live and work here and not from the economic development organization,” Fox said. In the past 24 months, ABCD has directly reached more than 1.24 million people with more than 4,000 regular followers on social media platforms.

Join us. Come home to Blair County – the First Frontier. To engage and follow developments in the First Frontier visit and like us on Facebook at

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