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CoSign Goes National

(March 2017) posted on Mon Mar 06, 2017

High-quality signs to spur small business growth in Illinois, Florida and Iowa


By Wade Swormstedt

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As this issue of ST was going to press, officials from five US cities were gathering at the American Sign Museum (February 20-21) in Cincinnati for a workshop. There, they would learn about the synergy of design and fabrication to produce the most valuable marketing device for an independent business – its on-premise sign.

Their instruction wasn’t merely theoretical. The definitive end result would be approximately 40 new signs as part of the CoSign program (Cincinnati; cosigncincy.org/program). While three iterations of CoSign were rolled out individually in the greater Cincinnati area over the past three years, 2017 marks its evolution into a template for nationwide replication. Hence, ASM workshop attendees came from Iowa, Florida and Chicago, and potential future participants traveled from rural Kentucky.



COFOUNDING COSIGN
The CoSign project began in 2012 as a collaborative effort between the American Sign Museum (ASM) and the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./US Bank Foundation, which provided $150,000 for the inaugural CoSign project. The Haile Foundation funds projects that involve both the arts community and economic development – perfect for signs. Specifically, Eric Avner, senior program manager for community development for the foundation, worked with ASM Founder Tod Swormstedt [full disclosure: Tod is also my brother, and the museum is supported in part by ST’s parent company, ST Media Group].

Tod said, “CoSign ties in perfectly with the museum’s vision statement, which is ‘To promote the significant contribution signs make to commerce, culture and the American landscape.’ Whereas the museum itself chronicles the history of signs, CoSign documents the current and future economic value of signs.”
The project brings merchants, designers and sign fabricators together, and everyone develops a greater under-standing of each other’s viewpoint. The pilot project included the unveiling of 11 projecting, non-electric signs in Cincinnati’s eclectic Northside neighborhood in November 2012.


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