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New England News

Business Leaders Asked To Financially Back Springfield 'Image Campaign'

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WAMC
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In advance of the opening next year of the MGM casino, the city of Springfield is planning an advertising blitz to promote the city’s assets to visitors.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno outlined plans for the “image campaign” and asked for contributions to pay for it at a meeting with more than 100 of the city’s business leaders.

" We need to tell our story now, and tell it correctly," said Sarno.

With the new casino scheduled to open in September 2018, and projections that it will draw up to 10,000 patrons a day, Sarno declared “the window of opportunity is open” and “everybody can get a piece of the pie.”

The initiative is aimed at erasing perceptions that Springfield is still the city it was more than a decade ago when it teetered on the brink of municipal bankruptcy and was swept by waves of violent crime.  The goal, the mayor explained in a letter inviting business leaders to the meeting, is to promote Springfield “as a fun, safe, and fascinating place to visit, work, and live.”

" This is a regional campaign looking at the Connecticut area, the Berkshire-New York area, central Mass. and Boston area and upper New England to sell our wares," said Sarno in an interview.

To be effective, $1-2 million will need to be spent on the campaign, estimated Springfield Chief Economic Development Officer Kevin Kennedy.

"The number has to be impactful or we are  wasting our time," said Kennedy.

He said the city will donate a “six figure” amount to the image campaign.

" The mayor and I have talked about that and we will be, of course, in consultation with the City Council to come up with ( an amount) that is fair from the citizen's point of view," said Kennedy.

The Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts will receive the donations to fund the campaign.

EDC President Rick Sullivan said the image campaign for Springfield will be coordinated with efforts to boost tourism and new business development throughout the region.

George Arwady, publisher of the The Republican, said the newspaper, MassLive, and the city’s commercial TV stations will work cooperatively to create the image campaign.

"We are working together as friendly competitors because we want the same thing for this community," said Arwady.

Although no one broke out their checkbooks on the spot, reaction to the image campaign announcement from the business leaders was positive judging by comments during and after the meeting.

Paul Picknelly, one of the city’s most prominent businessman, said the idea is “fantastic.”

" I applaud the mayor and EDC for putting the meeting together," said Picknelly. " It is about time we tell people outside our region what is going on in downtown Springfield."

Depending on the how the fundraising goes, the ads promoting Springfield are expected to appear beginning in the first three months of 2018, and then become less frequent once MGM launches an expected advertising blitz of its own to trumpet the opening of the new casino.  

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