Monday, October 11, 2010

We Have the Money, Let's Fund Pure Michigan

Yes, we have the money. Check this out. The state treasurer is reporting that revenue to the general fund is coming in at $100 million more than expected (wow), and Governor Granholm is asking the Legislature to appropriate $25 million so Pure Michigan can be fully funded for next year. From the state release:

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today said she is asking state lawmakers to appropriate an additional $25 million to fund the Pure Michigan advertising campaign at the earliest possible date so the state’s tourism campaign can get back on track. The Governor’s recommendation on Pure Michigan funding follows news from the state treasurer that revenues in the state’s general fund are more than $100 million above projections for FY 2010.

“Pure Michigan is a proven winner in supporting Michigan jobs and businesses,” Governor Granholm said. “With revenues higher than expected and with widespread support from this award-winning program it is important that we seize the moment to put this campaign back on track. The move will also allow lawmakers time to focus on finding a long-term solution to fund Pure Michigan.”

Last month Travel Michigan canceled the 2010 Pure Michigan fall advertising campaign, marking the first time since 2005 that Michigan tourism did not have a presence with fall advertising.

“The loss of funding for our 2010-2011 campaign was a major blow to Michigan’s tourism-related businesses and will result in the loss of revenue at tourism businesses as well as reduced state tax collections,” stated George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “A decision to fund Pure Michigan will allow us to resume our regional winter advertising program, our regional fall advertising program in 2011 and our regional and national program in spring and summer.”

Editorials have not been kind about the loss of funding for the campaign. The GR Press, in a piece entitled "Pure lunacy for lawmakers to suspend Pure Michigan commercials", pointed to the money we are making:

You’d think a dollar-producing, wildly popular budget item such as this would be a priority, especially when tourism is a $15 billion-a-year industry here. Alas, no. Lawmakers have debated but consistently declined to find a dedicated way to pay for Pure Michigan.

Debated? Hardly. There was no debate. There was a whole lotta "no!" going on though. Unfortunately, the media never explains that it has been Mike Bishop and the Senate Republicans who have blocked funding for the campaign. Time and time again they have shot ideas down - and chances are they will this time too, even though both Snyder and Bernero have called for funding to be reinstated. I'm just waiting for the pleas of incompetence to roll in. From a new study conducted by Longwoods International, here are the numbers on what the Republicans will cost us:

According to the study, the first-ever national Pure Michigan advertising campaign motivated 680,000 new trips to Michigan from outside the Great Lakes region. Those visitors spent $250 million at Michigan businesses last summer as a direct result of the Travel Michigan advertising program. In addition, these new out-of-state visitors paid $17.5 million in state taxes while in Michigan, yielding a $2.23 return on investment for the tourism advertising.

In addition, the study also determined the effectiveness of the campaign on the regional level. Longwoods International assessed the impact of the 2009 Pure Michigan summer advertising on the residents of the Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Ontario, Canada markets. The regional campaign attracted 1.3 million out-of-state visitors to Michigan last summer, visitors who spent $338 million at Michigan businesses. The Pure Michigan campaign was able to improve its regional return on investment from $2.86 in 2004 to $5.34 in 2009.

Michigan’s tourism industry is a vital component of the economy. Visitors to the state spend $15.1 billion annually traveling in Michigan, generating $850 million in state taxes and supporting 142,500 jobs for Michigan residents.

The regional campaign was canceled in 2010 when Republicans cut our funding in half for the entire program. The Chicago Sun-Times commented recently that they have missed the ads down there. Perhaps I should send them Bishop's contact information.

Sure would be nice to see some Democrats stand up here. If they do, I'll let you know.

Here is an oldie but a goodie - and should be playing across the nation right now:

UPDATE: As predicted, once again the Senate Republicans are saying "no" to Michigan. Wave goodbye to any winter campaign we could have run.

Matt Marsden, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), said the Senate would not be ready to make any such decisions without more information and probably not until the January Revenue Estimating Conference.

And Dillon was "noncommittal", which is par for the course as well.

Hope the next Legislature steps up and does the right thing here - because this one certainly won't.