Ketchum’s Mayor Neil Bradshaw has put a budget up that will make a bad situation worse for local businesses and employees by cutting all city funding for marketing, about $400,000.
His budget also calls for nearly de-funding Sun Valley Economic Development, the only business-membership organization in the valley that compiles the numbers that tell the story of the area’s economic performance—good and bad.
It’s understandable that the city would want to hide future numbers. Business experts have produced piles of marketing studies that examine advertising practices in times ranging from a mild recession to the Great Depression. Their conclusion: Organizations that do not continue to invest in advertising—to keep their name in front of the public—stand to lose double-digit percentages of market share when the economy rebounds.
Most of the money that goes to the area’s marketing arm, the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance, goes toward winter marketing. Losing winter market share will be like losing a whole pizza, not just a slice.
If the City Council approves, the marketing money will instead support the bloated salaries and benefits of bloated numbers of administrative staff. Unlike other workers, city workers’ will not feel the pinch of COVID-19 coronavirus.
Through May, Ketchum’s local-option sales tax receipts dropped a little more than four percent. The budget projects they will drop 33 percent—a self-fulfilling prophecy if marketing cuts remain.
Taking a hatchet to marketing is economic suicide. Local businesses and workers have enough pandemic-related problems. Ketchum’s elected officials should help, not hurt them.