Spokane Valley officials are so pleased with the city’s improved permit application process that they have paid for billboards and newspaper, radio, Internet and television advertisements to brag.
“It really ties in with promoting the city of Spokane Valley as a business-friendly community,” said City Manager Mike Jackson. “We’re trying to target our community, our citizens. We know a lot of economic development starts by word of mouth.”
There are two ads airing on local television stations largely during morning and evening news shows. One features a boy dressed in a suit standing in front of a chalkboard, checking off all the kinds of permits people can get. The second features the manager of the new Spokane Valley Wal-Mart talking about how wonderful city staff were to work with during the store’s construction.
The advertising firm MDI Marketing is being paid $75,000 for the work, with money the city set aside for an economic development plan. The council agreed to spend the money on marketing when work on the economic development plan moved in-house.
The marketing company researched demographics and other information and identified television ads as a necessary component, Jackson said. “It may not be the least expensive, but it’s the best way to reach many of those people,” he said. “It really is based on science.”
It’s all about attracting more business to Spokane Valley, Jackson said. “The permitting system and the turnaround time and the support the large corporations and developers receive weighs very heavily on their decision on where to locate,” he said.
Anyone who builds a house or opens a business also has to go through the permit process. “We really feel that we excel in the permitting program,” Jackson said. “We have really good turnaround times. It can be a developer or it can be a citizen who wants to put in a water heater or add a bathroom on a home. It really does impact a lot of people. We see it as a very important element, the foundation, really, of economic development.”
The ads are paid for through the end of the year. There is currently no money in the 2013 budget for more advertising, Jackson said. The city does have money set aside for some tourism promotion, including the creating of a mobile phone app.
“We’ve really started to invest very prudently in economic development,” he said. “It takes a little money to do that. We’ll have to kind of regroup and think about it again before we do any more.”
The television commercials are on the city’s website, www.spokanevalley.org.