SPRINGFIELD -- A planned $1 million "image campaign" to promote the city of Springfield took a significant step forward Monday night as the City Council voted unanimously to contribute $100,000 in taxpayer funds.
Councilors said that a key to their support for the campaign is the explanation that it will tell the story of the entire city of Springfield including the neighborhoods, rather than be a downtown promotion.
"It's to tell the good story of all the things happening in the great city of Springfield," said Richard K. Sullivan, the president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, which is overseeing the campaign. "It's not just a downtown campaign. This will not be a casino campaign."
MGM Springfield, planning to open a $960 million casino in September, is perfectly capable of promoting the casino itself, Sullivan said.
Participants in the campaign will develop the campaign strategy, graphics and advertising, with the actual promotion expected to begin in late 2018, Sullivan said.
The Economic Development Council has already committed $400,000 in funds toward the campaign from its business members.
Businesses pledge $400K toward Springfield 'image campaign,' pending city's contribution.
Richard K. Sullivan Jr., president of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, said the business community is ready to contribute $400,000 to a Springfield "image campaign" if the city contributes $100,000.
In addition, the EDC expects that the combined total of $500,000 in business and city contributions will be matched by in-kind contributions from media organizations including The Republican, MassLive, 22 News and Western Mass News, along with Comcast, Sullivan said.
Ward 1 Councilor Adam Gomez said he appreciates the "positive attitude' shown by the EDC and that the door is open for neighborhood groups to share their positive news.
Hearing that the campaign is not going to be an "MGM commercial, you won me over with that," Gomez said.
Councilor Jesse Lederman said he is pleased the campaign will "paint the story of all of Springfield."
Sullivan said the benefits of promoting Springfield to visitors and others will far outweigh the cost.
"There has been a huge response from the business community in support of this," Sullivan said.
In December, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno supported the plans for the campaign, saying, "If we don't tell our story, no one else will."
Sullivan has said the campaign capitalizes on the major economic development investments occurring in the region, with the focus on Springfield.
It will highlight some of the positive things happening in Springfield ranging from the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame to highlights of the Springfield neighborhoods and how Springfield is a great place to live and visit, he said.