Ray Franz favors cutting “Pure Michigan” funding


By Jacob Wheeler
Sun editor

State representative-elect Ray Franz favors cutting “Pure Michigan” funding by as much as 80 percent, the soon-to-be legislator from the 101st District told the Leelanau Enterprise last week. Franz said he would reduce funding from $25 to $30 million down to $5 to $6 million, while comparing Michigan’s tourism economy to keeping the books at the Onekema grocery store he owns.

“I figured my budget for marketing at my grocery store in Onekama should be about one-percent of sales, and that should be about right in this case as well.”

Republican Franz narrowly defeated Democrat Dan Scripps on Nov. 2 in a heated campaign that included thousands of robo-calls to voters in Leelanau, Benzie and Manistee counties and lies about the incumbent’s voting record.

The Midwest-wide advertising campaign, which has been a big hit here in tourism-dependent Leelanau County, reportedly generated $2.23 in revenues for Michigan for every $1 spent. And a newly released Michigan State University research project credits Pure Michigan ads as being partly responsible for occupancy rates increasing at double the national average for the summer of 2010.

The Detroit Free Press reported Fridaythat the award-winning campaign was to go dark in January because the state had approved only $5.4 million for the coming year — not enough for a widespread TV ad campaign, according to officials at Travel Michigan, the state agency that runs Pure Michigan.

But in the 11th hour the “lame duck” legislature came through. Wrapping up a marathon session that began Thursday morning, Lansing lawmakers allocated $10 million for the Pure Michigan TV campaign to advertise the state’s winter and spring tourism activities in other states — far less than the $25 million Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Travel Michigan officials had requested, but enough money to keep the ad campaign alive.

Last year Patricia and Larry Widmayer, owners of the Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast, credited the Pure Michigan campaign with keeping their guest numbers steady, despite the rough economy.

“Many people have commented to us that they’ve seen the Pure Michigan campaign. It makes you want to come here,” said Patricia, who spends most of the year in Evanston, Ill., near Chicago, and sees the ad campaign on Illinois television. “The ads have a great look and feel, whether you want to go out on the golf course or to the beach,” Larry chimed in.

Actor and comedian, and a summer resident of nearby Northport, Tim Allen provides the voiceover for Pure Michigan’s ads, with poetic and compelling messages like this one: “Fall colors begin with a slow dance of turning leaves, and crescendo in a trillion trees aflame. Experience the entire state of Michigan in its annual blaze of glory. Find out what Pure Michigan fall colors feel like. Your trip begins at Michigan.org.”