Forest Park is in for a makeover”both virtual and physical. This spring, new banners will be flown throughout the main street area as part of a beautification program that includes updating the village’s website, adding streaming video and branding the site as the virtual destination of choice for all things Forest Park.
The banner and streaming video program are a collaboration between marketing company CGI Communications, local businesses and the mayor’s office.
“CGI comes into select communities and produces a video overview which is stored and streamed on our servers. We combine it with a street banner program used to brand that community’s website address so that residents, visitors and commuters will see the address and spark their interest to visit the site,” said Gail Kruger, Sr. marketing executive for CGI.
As part of the program, four streaming videos were produced about Forest Park. The first is an address from Mayor Anthony Calderone, welcoming people to the site and introducing the community as vibrant, growing and optimal for investment.
The site and banners are all themed after the village’s motto “Big city access, small town charm.”
“When you look at all four of the streaming videos, the purpose is they are intended to give the unfamiliar person the opportunity to learn about Forest Park with regards to its business, its residential, and its schools,” Calderone said. “They are short clips that videotape each one of those aspects.”
The banners are paid for by local businesses and are part of a state-wide program offered at no cost to the municipalities by CGI to all members of the Illinois Municipal League.
The banner design, however, is uniquely Forest Park.
Initially, CGI prepared a proposal banner for the city, but two local artists took the design and made it a Forest Park banner.
“The original design had a tree and a bench, and I thought it was kind of an interesting idea, but it didn’t have all of the other stuff with it,” said Cecilia Hardacker, co-owner of Two Fish Art Glass, 7401 W. Madison St.
For her and her partner, Tonya Hart, the design was not quite a complete idea.
“The biggest thing is the slogan for the village”small town charm, big city access”and we wanted to find some way to encompass both of those ideas,” Hardacker said.
To her, the new banner demonstrates that on a clear day, you can stand in the middle of Madison and see all the way to the Sears tower. The banner also shows the fronts of the business, with a big tree on the right, alluding to the names of the three adjacent towns in the area.
“We wanted to look like the sun was rising; a new dawn was rising on our fair little burb,” Hardacker said. “We wanted to portray something colorful, optimistic, not the same thing everybody sees everywhere. We think it is a very unique business area, and we wanted to show that in the banner.”
The banners will all list the village’s web address at the bottom in order to brand the site for the town.
The problem for many villages, Kruger explained is that there is no continuity or consistency with Internet address, and it is very difficult for people to find websites. These addresses, she said, sometimes end in .net, .com, or even .gov.
Because of this, and because of competing sites that also bear the village name, villages like Forest Park are in need of a branding tool.
The facelift will also affect the village website.
“We are reorganizing it to make it easier to navigate and more user-friendly. You will be seeing more of these elements,” said Sally Cody, administrative assistant to the mayor.
One noticeable change is the addition of day-to-day forms to the site, which will be uploaded as a time-saving device for local businesses.
These innovations are the result of the village’s “desire to make those forms available to users of the system, so if they need an application, they wouldn’t have to make a physical trip to village hall,” Calderone said.
“Our plans are to put any of our forms”permit for garbage, building permits”all integrated into the website to make them accessible to folks at their home or business. Along with that will be updating and bringing current minutes of our village council meetings online to review,” he said.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a banner can call Christy McGill at 800/398-3029, ext. 211. The village website can be viewed at www.forestpark.net.