Tuesday, 18 January 2011 18:11

Jefferson Parish Economic Unit Involved In Controversial Ad Campaign

Written by Walt Bennetti, Publisher of ClickJefferson.com
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The following Editorial is reprinted courtesy of ClickJefferson.com and does not necessarily reflect the view of BayouBuzz.com

---------------------------------------------------------- EDITORIAL: JEDCO Should Cancel Poorly Conceived Advertising Campaign
By Walt Bennetti, Publisher of ClickJefferson.com

You’ve seen the ads around town on billboards, in print and on television: “Jefferson Parish – Opportunity Lives Here”.

Recently, many of you have seen the billboards asking: “Who Planted 1400 Trees?”, “Who’s Reinventing A City?”, “Who Lowered Crime Rates?”, “Who Put Art In Its Place?”, and “Who Built Better Levees?”.

Over the past few weeks, many of ClickJefferson.com’s readers have asked us, “Who Built Better Levees?” and “What City Was Reinvented?” Well, now we know who is responsible, even if we can’t accurately answer the questions.

JEDCO, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission, is responsible for the poorly conceived and executed advertising campaign.

For the record, ClickJefferson.com has been a strong supporter of JEDCO when it acts on its primary mission: retaining and creating quality jobs, entrepreneurship and investment in Jefferson Parish. ClickJefferson.com disagrees with JEDCO when it deviates from its mission and attempts to influence Public Opinion on “Quality of Life” issues.

We also cannot understand why JEDCO is advertising in a magazine, Jefferson Life, that is published by a Northshore company that barely has an office in Jefferson Parish, and what a billboard campaign aimed at Jefferson Parish residents that asks unanswerable questions, has to do with business and investment in Jefferson Parish?

Just as we can’t tell you “Who Planted 1400 Trees?”. We can tell you that, it wasn’t JEDCO.

As for the other questions:

- ClickJefferson.com has no idea what City was reinvented unless JEDCO is referring to “Fat City” and that won’t be reinvented in our lifetime.

- “Who Lowered Crime Rates?”, we don’t know that one either. But, we’re pretty sure it wasn’t JEDCO. For the record, we don’t think JEDCO is responsible for the 40% increase in Murders in Jefferson Parish since 2008 either although we haven’t seen that billboard, yet.

- “Who Put Art In Its Place?”, that question still has us scratching our heads. We know there are some sculptures on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie. Is JEDCO saying that Art belongs on heavily trafficked roads? Does that mean there should also be sculptures in the medians of Manhattan Boulevard, Clearview Parkway and the West Bank Expressway? What about Lapalco and Barataria Boulevards? They could use a little sprucing up. For the record, ClickJefferson.com is not condoning graffiti, although that does pass for “Art” in some cities.

- And, the most obscene billboard, by far, asks “Who Built Better Levees?” Since the Harvey Canal Floodwall and numerous flood protection projects in the parish are years away from completion, and since neither Jefferson Parish or JEDCO, in particular, are funding or involved in the construction of these projects, what exactly is JEDCO talking about?

Aside from the obvious poorly conceived messages, two questions remain:

1). Who has the answers to JEDCO’s billboards?

2). Why is JEDCO advertising within Jefferson Parish? JEDCO’s primary role, as stated above, is to attract and retain business, not attempt to influence public opinion.

In 2009, JEDCO received $1,522,995 in funding from Jefferson Parish Occupational Licenses. That’s over 66% of their $2.2 Million budget, meaning that, essentially, JEDCO is funded by Jefferson Parish businesses.

In 2009, JEDCO spent $504,640 on Advertising and Marketing, and $628,223 in Administration Expenses, primarily salaries. JEDCO only spent $587,320 on Economic Development Services, which is supposed to be its primary mission.

Thus, only 24% of JEDCO’s budget was spent on Economic Development while 45% was spent on Advertising and Marketing, primarily to local residents, and another on Administration. Those numbers don’t work.

It would seem to the casual observer that JEDCO's fiscal priorities are not matching up to its mission.

To be sure, JEDCO is not spending $500,000 on this ad campaign. However, no money should be spent on Advertising and Marketing that does not directly correlate with JEDCO’s mission: Economic Development. “Quality of Life” is not Economic Development and should not be JEDCO’s focus.

Since Jefferson Parish Businesses are directly funding JEDCO, Jefferson Parish Business Owners should reap the benefits of an organization like JEDCO through new businesses coming to our parish and economic incentives to assist small businesses impacted by the recession and disasters like the BP Oil Spill.

Sadly, it seems that the only people profiting from the efforts of JEDCO are a North Shore advertising company and JEDCO’s own administrative staff.

ClickJefferson.com asks that JEDCO immediately cancel advertising that is aimed at Jefferson Parish residents, significantly reduce its administrative expenses to an acceptable level, and return to its mission of attracting and retaining business and helping the Jefferson Parish Business Community grow.

As the Jefferson Parish Council appoints seven members and the Parish President appoints one member, they are responsible for 8 of JEDCO’s 21-person board. Since, JEDCO’s budget is primarily from Occupational Licenses, Jefferson Parish should have more oversight involving JEDCO and its finances.

If JEDCO is not proactive in cleaning up its own house, the Parish Council and Parish President should step in and clean it for them.

Otherwise, we may need to buy some billboards that ask “Who Spent $500,000 In Tax Dollars On A Dumb Advertising Campaign?” Unlike the JEDCO billboards, we already know the answer to that question.


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