OUR VIEW: Pure Michigan ideal falls short with guide

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:38 am on Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Here in Montcalm County — and, no doubt, many other small communities around the state — we’re hyper aware of the importance of shopping locally and keeping our money close to home. Not only does this philosophy help our unique mix of retailers and businesses thrive, but it also makes our area more attractive to potential new businesses and folks considering moving here. Not to mention that those of us who live in the area have more options for shopping, services and jobs from a healthy mix of retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

This focus on keeping it local makes the recent news about the Pure Michigan campaign sending money out of state even more aggravating. If you missed the headline earlier, it was reported that The Pure Michigan Travel Guide, which is part of the Pure Michigan campaign, is actually put together by a company in Des Moines, Iowa.

Say what?

Of course, in our area we also are especially aware that businesses elect to go beyond their state’s and country’s borders when they find a cheaper price of doing business elsewhere — think Electrolux. But the entire goal of the Pure Michigan campaign is to bring tourism — and, therefore, dollars — to our state.

Perhaps even more insulting is the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which oversees the Pure Michigan campaign, was the one responsible for awarding the bid to the folks who work for Midwest Living magazine, which is owned by Meredith Corporation, a big media company that also puts out Better Homes & Gardens. At the risk of stating the obvious, the mission of the MEDC is to, well, help develop our state’s economy by drawing new jobs and tourists to our state. You would think that somewhere along the line, someone would have noticed that their mission and their actions in this instance don’t line up.

We can say with confidence that there are a variety of home-grown businesses in our state that could have handled this project. But ultimately, the MEDC chose the Iowa-based publisher because, their spokesperson said, “at the end of the day, it’s the best value for the price and we got the most out of it. We look at Michigan companies, we work very hard to work with Michigan companies, but we want to make sure the product we’re delivering is consistent and has the quality and the distribution.”

Michigan Living will get $1.5 million to write, edit, design, print and partially distribute the Pure Michigan Travel Guide, published three times a year. We find it hard to believe they couldn’t find anyone, anywhere in the state of Michigan to do the job right. Our state’s tourism campaign has won accolades from a variety of big time organizations. But by sending this work out of the state they are trying to promote, the Pure Michigan folks fell far short of their award winning reputation.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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