A brief rumination on branding

Enterprise's antique fire truck display will get a new roof to protect it.

I’ve been wondering how to write about this for a long time and then during the regular City Council meeting in Enterprise, a decision made by the council brought it all together for me.

Enterprise has been struggling for a long time to create a brand for itself, as has Wallowa.

Both communities have been giving it a lot of effort over the years and the news coming out of Wallowa these days makes it the most exciting city I cover right now.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on Wallowa and letting you know everything I find out. You folks in Wallowa can help me by sending me news tips and making sure I know about things that might be flying under the radar. School Superintendent Bret Uptmor already is on board with that and we try to meet in person several times a month. Councilman Garret Lowe is leading the charge on brainstorming and organizing revitalization developments for the city with the aid of dozens of city servants and community movers and shakers, and I try to keep up with what’s going on there as well.

As I’ve reported before, Wallowa is making plans to put themselves on the map by means of a Main Street revitalization and congruent theme for Main Street, to be expressed in business signage. Early talks, (and nothing is settled, yet) have been around identifying Wallowa as the Industry City, with industrial themes.

I think that is so cool. I love it.

Meanwhile in Enterprise, the city has installed its substantial and beautiful Welcome to Enterprise sign along Highway 82 at the town’s west entrance. I was so pleased. I’d thought for a long time that we just weren’t putting our city on the map in a visual way for visitors. And now, we’ve begun at the boundary of the city. Our sign shows our agricultural valley.

I’ve wondered what Enterprise could do to support that theme in public art. Joseph has been able to line its Main Street with public art and brand itself as the “art community.” Wallowa is considering industrial art. But Enterprise is not Joseph or Wallowa. Our cities need their own identities.

What is Enterprise centering its theme around?

Well, I’m just one opinion on this, but the idea for public art for Enterprise was suggested to me by the incredible collection of Enterprise farmer Erl McLaughlin out at Sunrise Iron.

Erl, as you no doubt know, has a massive barn jammed full of antique agricultural equipment and people come from all over to see that. That made me think. Why not place a few pieces of noteworthy agricultural equipment around Enterprise?

As it turns out, the city already has had a similar idea. The art that has been installed is not an agricultural piece, but it’s certainly a “country life” piece — the city last summer placed its 1937 antique fire truck on the 90-degree turn where Highway 82 becomes River Street. It has been decorated for fall and the plan is to decorate it accordingly for each new season.

On Nov. 14 the council made the decision to protect its antique truck with a roof. The front area of the structure will be open so that the truck can continue to be a showpiece, seasonal decorations can continue and event signage can conceivably hang from the beam of the roof as well.

Is this the beginning of Enterprise country-life/agricultural art?

Please send your Biz Buzz news tips to Kathleen Ellyn at kellyn@wallowa.com.

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