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Supersizing Berne's Swiss concept

BERNE, Ind.-Concept marketing has become the key to small town success, as seen in cities like Gatlinburg, Tenn. and Frankenmuth, Mich.

In recent years, industries have moved away from smaller cities, leaving communities like Berne scrambling to find a new economic identity. Concept marketing is an approach that looks for areas of interest that have the most potential for success, and then markets those concepts.

When asked what foundational element might mark Berne's concept market strategy, Jim Beitler, co-chairman of the Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower steering committee, said, "It's simple. Berne already has a popular niche-it's pronounced 'Swiss'."

Berne's Swiss heritage makes the community unique and attracts people from across the country to experience events like Swiss Days and Swiss Heritage Days. But as Beitler said, "In order to concept market, we need to 'super size that Swiss concept,' and that's what the Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower will do."

The clock tower project is aimed at improving the local economy by opening the door to increased trade and tourism. With the Swiss theme already solidly in place, the clock tower will form an even greater link to Berne's European roots, and will generate increased economic opportunity for all of the city's businesses. The plaza will provide an attractive gathering place for weddings, reunions and receptions, and can be used for concerts and Swiss Days events.

Former Berne residents Keith Reinhard and Erv Inniger have embraced the project, and are already lending their support. Reinhard is the honorary chairman of the campaign, and Inniger has met with officials from Bern, Switzerland to promote it. Alumni and former residents of Berne have contributed in the hope that when they retire, they will be able to return to Berne and enjoy the increased trade and tourism that the Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower will bring.

"We're fortunate to have something unique that we're already known for," said Beitler. "With tourism we have a chance, and if we market our uniqueness, entrepreneurs will come to Berne."

Along with its economic advantages, the tower will stand as a symbol of the values of the founding fathers; values like faith, courage, hope, vision, hard work, perseverance, opportunity and freedom. It will create an enduring legacy and will leave a lasting impression with the thousands who drive past the plaza every day.

To learn more about the Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower, visit the Web site at www.berneclocktower.org.

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