Friday, February 6, 2009

This city idea won't sell

Apologies for the lag. The blog was down during a last-minute scramble to not buy a house. On to the posting:

Piggybacking on my most recent post regarding the City Council's decision to sell naming rights to city venues, let's discuss a decision made in the same meeting to get Tracy into the ad-selling business.

The move struck me as curious at first because advertising dollars — especially in print media, where the city hopes to make its money in this endeavor — just aren't out there right now. If you wanted to make money, going after print ads would not be my first tactic in the current economy.

But more than that, it makes it seem as if the city is indifferent to privately owned businesses.

Advertising revenue is scarce, and outfits like San Joaquin Magazine and, yes, the Tracy Press, are fighting for survival along with every other company out there. These two companies, and others, depend on advertising revenue to keep their business models going. Now the city intends to further divide that revenue source.

Before you judge this as a self-serving rant (as my job at the Press pays my bills, after all) consider this:

Tracy has a reputation as being unfriendly to business. Mayor Brent Ives (who didn't vote on this proposal) and other city leaders have pledged to turn that around and encourage local businesses to flourish. But the city decided to possibly enter into direct competition with local businesses, essentially making it harder for them to survive.

This is larger than the Press. It's about living up to the pledge to fix the city's image and practices.

No doubt the city needs to find creative ways to shore up its budget gap, so kudos to the city staff and City Council for taking a novel approach this time. But that effort shouldn't come at the expense of the homegrown businesses we can boast about. It strikes me as counterproductive.

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