'Your ad here' City's New Slogan?

(posted Apr 17)

The Mayor's Office is searching for the most creative and innovative company to develop a program to generate revenues from the city's under performing assets. Requests for Information were sent out on April 7 to solicit proposals from a broad range of businesses, including marketing and advertising firms. "We believe the City is not taking full advantage of these opportunities to offset current operating and capital expenses," Kurt Fullbeck, project assistant of the Mayor's staff, said. The firms will look at using the city's assets for naming rights, sponsorship and other creative ideas.

Michael Huber, director of Enterprise Development for the city, said the 2010 tax caps prompted Mayor Greg Ballard to start looking at alternatives other than imposing additional taxes. The clock is ticking for Ballard's administration to find additional revenues to cover an estimated $20 million deficit.

One of Ballard's initial surprises when taking office was that the City had no knowledge of all of its real estate. Since then, a database has been developed to track city's real estate holdings.

Huber could not give a projection of how much money they expected to raise from the city's assets. "We don't know what we don't know." He said the city's lack of this particular type of skill prompted seeking outside assistance.

Huber said the city is modeling some of the ideas from San Diego and Chicago to promote its assets to generate revenues. Huber illustrated one of Chicago's programs to generate revenue by using its bus shelters for advertising. Huber said this does not mean that Indianapolis would follow suit, it is just an example of using assets to generate revenue without imposing additional taxes.

The administration plans to work within existing ordinances to avoid deviating from historical preservation in certain parts of the city. He said the plan would receive public input before it is implemented. Huber would like to have the plan up and running by summer. He said the city can't afford to wait with 2010 fast approaching.

Companies have until April 24th to submit their proposals to the city.