MERRILL, Wis. – A three-year, community-involved research initiative focused on defining the qualities that make the Merrill community unique in the marketplace has led to the creation of a marketing and branding plan that will contribute to a positive future for Merrill residents and businesses.

“Merrill has a wonderful story to tell,” Mayor Derek Woellner said. “The branding and marketing effort will help us share our story in a powerful and unique way that will appeal to people who want to be part of our exciting future.”

John Greenwood, Merrill Aware and Active Citizens Group advisor/secretary, led the research initiative. The community process included a cross section of Merrill residents, business and community leaders, city officials and staff, and community partners.

“Community insights were critical in contributing to this effort,” Greenwood said. “Over the past few years, we have engaged with a wide range of voices, including residents, businesses and community leaders to get a feel for the history, culture and future of Merrill. It’s been an insightful, valuable and inspiring journey.”

The research effort led to the approval of newly updated mission, vision and values statements.

“These statements provide a contemporary vision for our future, grounded in our heritage and culture,” Woellner said. “More importantly, they are a result of community input – they were created based on what our residents and businesses shared with us.” The mission, vision and value statements can be found at

The marketing and branding effort will include a new brand identity for Merrill and marketing focused on attracting and retaining talent in the area.

“Merrill businesses, like so many businesses across the country, have a deep need for workers to fill a multitude of open positions in manufacturing, medical, financial services and more,” said David Johnson, Merrill city administrator. “Cities – small and large – are competing for talent. Merrill truly has a unique mixture of small-town charm, career opportunity, great schools and fantastic four-season activities that we strongly feel will be attractive to workers.”

A newly formed marketing committee is leading the development and implementation of the marketing and branding plan that will be used in economic development efforts to attract new and former residents and retain existing residents.

“Our residents are the backbone of Merrill,” said Rick Blake, Merrill City Council member – Third District. “We want to encourage those who have left to come home, those who are here to stay and those who don’t know about us to make Merrill their home.”

The committee is made up of council members Rick Blake, John Van Lieshout and Mark Weix. Joining them are local business volunteers Scott Steele, vice president, chief marketing officer, Church Mutual Insurance Company; Melissa Wrycha, chief retail officer, Park City Credit Union; Bianca Boettcher, marketing manager, Thorogood, and Renea Frederick, secretary/treasurer, FreMarq Innovations; and residents Mike Ravn, retired president and CEO, Church Mutual; Gene Bebel, engaged resident, and Greenwood. The committee will also work in collaboration with the Merrill Chamber of Commerce.

The effort will be implemented by city staff and rolled out during a larger campaign in 2022.

Future meetings and updates will be posted on the city website as well as the Merrill-Lincoln County Community Group on Facebook.