TEMPLE TERRACE — The City Council chambers — and even some of its members — were decked in green and gold. The University of South Florida flag flew from the flagpole out front. Rocky the Bull and the USF SunDolls stood near as the mayor presented a proclamation to university president Judy Genshaft.
Tuesday was "USF Day'' in Temple Terrace. In a way, it was also "Temple Terrace Day.''
USF and this town less than a mile away have had a long relationship. Many professors, staff workers and students live there, and have since the university opened in 1960. But the hoopla is part of an ongoing marketing effort to raise the profile of the city, making it a place where home buyers and businesses want to be.
The city, besides strengthening relationships with what it calls "strategic partners'' — including USF, Busch Gardens and the Museum of Science and Industry — has redesigned its logo and created a new slogan, "Amazing City. Since 1925.''
It has revamped its website, templeterrace.com, and added an online video tour of the city's "gems,'' including its historic golf course, recreation complex and the oak-canopied streets. The online tour, set as a "story'' being reported by an actor portraying a journalist, also links the city to its famous neighbors, showing roller coaster riders at Busch Gardens and the entrance to USF.
"One of the things we're trying to do with our marketing plan is to let people know that this is great place to live,'' said Michael Dunn, spokesman for the city.
The council hired Temple Terrace company Lancaster Design and Think Tank Inc. of St. Petersburg for about $50,000 to create and help carry out a plan to boost the city's profile.
Mayor Frank Chillura, who served on the City Council in 2000, said he's not aware of the city ever embarking on such an extensive marketing effort. He and council member Grant Rimbey stressed the need to boost the city's profile during their 2012 campaigns. Rimbey said at the time that Temple Terrace had "been sleeping the last 30 years'' as New Tampa sprang up, Seminole Heights spruced up, and competition for homeowners and businesses — new tax revenue — became fierce.
The marketers first surveyed Temple Terrace residents on what they feel are the city's "gems.'' They listed the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club, the Hillsborough River, the Family Recreation Center, playgrounds, and historic landmarks like the spot where evangelist Billy Graham felt the call to dedicate his life to preaching.
Besides recommending that the city link itself to its highly visible neighbors, marketers advised the city to use social media and create the virtual tour. They designed brochures to put in the hands of Realtors. They suggested that the city put up signs indicating "amazing'' destinations and hoist welcoming banners on street poles. They created a mockup of a print advertisement. They redesigned the city's parks and recreation program catalog, the Recreator.
A festive atmosphere characterized the city's reach-out to USF. City Manager Gerald Seeber donned a Bulls cap. City department heads wore Bulls shirts. The mayor presented Genshaft with a key to the city and a mock street sign denoting "Dr. Judy Genshaft Dr.''
Genshaft could not have been more helpful.
"I know that USF is deeply embedded in what makes your city so very special,'' she said. "Our USF graduates are teaching in your neighborhood schools and providing world-class health care throughout the city. Our architecture students have helped design community landmarks and document the history of our town, Temple Terrace.'' She cited the working relationship between the city and USF's Center for Urban Transportation, its environmental scientists and artists.
"So, in other words, neither of us would have a bright future ahead without one another.''
Philip Morgan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3435.