Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 18, 2013

Editorial: Take another look at Pure Mich. deal

Our view
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — State economic development gurus obviously don’t have much regard for home-grown talent when it comes to gathering and producing written and visual content for their ballyhooed, taxpayer-funded Pure Michigan advertising campaign.

A recent Record-Eagle story detailed how state officials looked west — to Des Moines, Iowa, of all places — to hire the creative talent to produce editorial content and other tasks for Pure Michigan Travel Guide, a glossy publication chock full of breathless features and pretty pictures to promote our pleasant peninsula.

Michigan Economic Development Corp. employees — who ostensibly make their living from taxes paid by Michigan residents — hired Iowa-based Midwest Living magazine to produce Pure Michigan Travel Guide, a component of the overall Pure Michigan tourism campaign that uses print and broadcast mediums to tout the state’s jewels. Midwest Living’s deal is $1.5 million annually to churn out three seasonal issues of the magazine. The Iowa crew handles chores that include editorial production, design, printing and some distribution, and they offer the best bang for the buck, state officials contend.

“At the end of the day, it’s the best value for the price and we got the most out of it,” said Michelle Begnoche, MEDC’s spokeswoman.

By we, does she mean state bureaucrats and politicians? Maybe she means state taxpayers, if in fact the Midwest Living contract is a fair and square deal. Perhaps, but she’s certainly not referring to Michigan-based editors, designers, etc. who potentially could use their skills and talents to help produce a Michigan-based publication. Those same Michigan folks, if afforded a chance to perform, just might — after paying state taxes, mind you — spend money earned from a Pure Michigan magazine contract on, say, purely Michigan items such as homes, cars, groceries, etc., which most likely would be purchased from Michigan businesses, or at least businesses that are sited here and pay local and state taxes.

You know, all those little things that may not show up in glossy television and magazine ad campaigns, but in fact are the building blocks required to create and maintain communities. State officials might want to take a long, hard look at whether some or all of the exported Pure Michigan magazine could find its way home.

But Iowa surely appreciates the financial boost. Thanks to state taxpayers and a benevolent Michigan Economic Development Corp., midwestern living is a bit better for the good people of the Greater Des Moines, Iowa, area.