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The New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn.

AUBURN — Although it's been operating since last fall, the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn is still seeking a marketing strategy.  

The city plans on hiring a firm to establish an ERHC brand that supports the center through design, production and implementation as an effort to bolster the center's presence. Once selected, the firm will collaborate with the Downtown Auburn Business Improvement District and the Cayuga County Office of Tourism.

Specifically, the city is looking for a firm to manage digital marketing, social media strategies, website design and market research. Auburn City Clerk Chuck Mason said Monday that hiring a firm would be the most efficient way of establishing such strategies for the center. 

This marketing project will be funded through both the city's general fund and state grant funding. In 2018, Auburn was awarded $150,000 through Market New York — a state grant program that supports regionally themed projects and tourism destinations. The city is also chipping in $50,000, as required by the grant. 

This "completely pre-planned" initiative has nothing to do with the ERHC's current attendance numbers, said Mason. 

"We're excited about it, it's a big opportunity," Mason added. "By marketing the center, we're marketing Auburn and putting everything on the map." 

Letters of intent from interested firms are due Tuesday, April 16, although Mason said a "healthy amount of interest" has already been shown. A contract negotiation and award is expected in May, when the project will start. The project is expected to be completed by fall of 2020. 

According to the city's request for proposals, the goal of the project is to attract out-of-town visitors to the ERHC and ultimately the other historic and cultural sites found in Auburn. 

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Staff writer Dan Orzechowski can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or dan.orzechowski@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @OrzechowskiDan.