A&P Commission agrees to fund magazine ad; still seeking 7th commissioner

Chair: Financials in good shape

The El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission recently approved $5,000 to support the city's participation in a statewide publication that is geared toward economic development and tourism.

The request came from the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce during a regular A&P meeting on Sept. 27.

Bill Luther, chamber president and CEO, presented the funding request for the city to be featured in the next edition of "Arkansas: Love Where You Live."

The magazine launched in 2019 as a part of joint effort between the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism to attract tourists, new residents and new businesses to the state.

El Dorado was featured in each of the first two editions of the biennial publication.

In the 2021 - 2022 edition, El Dorado, is profiled in a four-page spread as "Arkansas's Festival City."

As he did in 2019 and 2021, Luther explained that the magazine targets business professionals/executives, human resource departments, business/industry prospects, trade shows and other such events around the world.

He also said the AEDC uses the magazine to court economic development opportunities on a worldwide scale, while the ADPHT relies on the magazine as a recruiting tool for tourists and to entice people, particularly retirees, to relocate to Arkansas.

On Sept. 7, Luther said 10,000 copies of the magazine are dedicated to the AEDC for trade shows and international trips and 14,000 to the Arkansas Business Publishing Group as a supplement to an edition of the Arkansas Business Magazine and materials to send to clients.

Luther said he reached out to a former high-ranking employee with the AEDC and inquired about the need for a four-page ad in the ALWYL magazine, noting that the rate was $12,500.

"And he said no. He said two pages is more than sufficient," Luther told commissioners.

He also pointed out that El Dorado is reportedly the leading community in the state to appear in the community pages of the magazine.

In 2022, Fiocchi Ammunition, which is based in Italy, announced that it was expanding its U.S. operations and had selected Little Rock as a site to build a new ammunition primer manufacturing facility.

Luther said the project resulted from the company's CEO picking up a copy of ALWYL at the Paris Air Show, a trade fair, air show and aerospace industry exhibition.

The event is held in odd years and the 2023 show was held in June.

When told that Fiocchi is expanding in Little Rock, A&P Commissioner and El Dorado City Council Member Buddy McAdams joked, "They owe us $12,500."

Luther said El Dorado is allotted 50 copies of the ALWYL magazine.

Half are used for site selectors and clients and the other half are shared with Main Street El Dorado to book live entertainment for its festivals and other events, he said.

Luther requested $8,500 to continue El Dorado's presence in the ALWYL magazine.

A&P chairman Don Miller asked if any major employers in the area share in the cost for the magazine spread.

"In the previous times, we have, but that has kind of dried up this year," Luther responded, noting that two major sponsors who previously supported the effort are not in the position to do so again this year.

The A&P commission funded $4,000 in 2019 and $5,000 in 2021 for ads and full-page spreads in the magazine.

Luther reiterated that the chamber intends to purchase space for two pages instead of four for the next edition.

A&P Commissioner and El Dorado City Council Member Dianne Hammond inquired about the cost for one page and Luther said one-page ads are not offered as an option.

Miller suggested that commissioners consider a $5,000 funding award and asked Luther to try to drum up support from other local sponsors to cover the balance.

"I think this is a meaningful and impactful publication and it's very well done but I'd like to have a lot more than 50 copies of it," Miller said.

The $12,500 funded 75 copies, Luther said while holding up the last remaining copy of the 2021 - 2022 edition that was sent to the chamber.

Miller said the funds would be taken from the non-designated line item in the 2023 A&P budget.

Financial report

During a financial report, Miller provided year-to-date balances through Aug. 31.

At the start of the year, the commission had a total balance of $747,186.90 and an ending balance of $638,891.66 on Aug. 31.

"The good news is that our new (City Collector Julie Murray) is doing an excellent job of keeping up with our local hotels and getting their money in from the (city's 3% lodging tax), so everyone is up to date. No one is behind," Miller said.

"That is very good news. We've seen consistent revenue coming through with the hotel tax. Good work there," he added.

He provided a breakdown and balances for each line item in the A&P's 2023 budget of $571,695, including:

Administrative.

Miller said only $43 has been spent from the $15,000 administrative budget. He said the number may soon drop due to expenses stemming from a recent convention.

Requests for Proposals

The commission budgeted $356,445 for funding requests to help advertise and promote local events for the year. He said $139,414.57 has been spent from the RFP line item.

Non-designated.

Commissioners allocated $20,000 for the non-designated fund and $3,786.67 was spent through Aug. 31.

Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism.

The commission budgeted $60,000 for the city to serve as the first-time host of the AGCT.

The 49th annual conference was held in town last February and Miller said $57,002.57 was spent.

A total of $320,497.59 has been expended from the 2023 budget.

Vacancy

The A&P commission is also looking to fill a vacancy that opened up after former Commissioner Maria Simpson resigned last month.

The seven-member commission allots three slots for hotel, motel or restaurant managers; two for city council members; and one at-large position.

Miller said the seat that was left open by Simpson, a hotel manager and former treasurer for the A&P commission, is available for a candidate who is in the same industry.

Anyone who is interested in serving on the A&P commission may request an application by calling City Clerk Heather McVay at 870-881-4877.

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