City weighs development ad campaign

A recent decision by Reedsburg officials that left the city with one foot in and one foot out of a county development group could result in stepped-up spending to promote the city’s industrial and business parks.

The Reedsburg Industrial & Commercial Development Commission voted to leave the Sauk County Economic Development Corp. Oct. 7 pending a reorganization of the commission.

The city’s proposed 2016 budget contains more than $18,000 in annual commission membership dues, which officials said might be better spent by taking the city’s case directly to developers with advertising.

“It makes total sense,” Mayor Dave Estes said. “We’re promoting Reedsburg’s industrial park, not giving that money to (the county).”

The development corporation has asked member municipalities to pay $1,250 each – a fraction of regular membership dues – in 2016 as officials rejigger the organization.

The Oct. 7 vote of the Reedsburg Industrial & Commercial Development Commission to leave the county development group held open the possibility the city could rejoin and allocated the $1,250 in next year’s budget.

A decision to rejoin the county development group or to make permanent the decision to leave is unlikely before next March, when the county group returns a report on its planned reorganization.

Even if the city does rejoin and pay the dues in 2016 the budget will contain an additional $17,000 that will not be spent on 2016 dues.

While a portion of the surplus may be used to close shortfalls elsewhere in the budget, a portion of the money could be used to promote the city in 2016.

A plan adopted by the city’s Finance Committee on Oct. 14 calls for tapping just $6,700 from the money that had been earmarked for development commission dues.

“That would leave $10,000 in the industrial commission budget to do something (advertising) they’re currently not doing at all,” Alderman Phil Peterson said.

Administrator Ken Witt presented rough costs for possible radio, newspaper and Internet ads and said the money will not go as far as officials would like.

“You can spend $5,000 on billboards pretty fast,” Witt said. “You can spend $1,000 a month on a billboard. It depends on the location and size.”

But officials observed that, whatever the city spends on promoting development will be a big advance over current efforts.

“Because, really, we’re not doing much in the way of promotion right now,” Witt said.

City weighs development ad campaign