The McCook Public Schools board of education approved, on a 5-1 vote, the schools' involvement in an eight-member inter-local cooperation project to design a marketing plan to promote the McCook area.
The schools' involvement would require a $1,000 contribution for each of the next two years and provide one position on the 13-member board. Other members and their contributions are as follows: City of McCook, $5,000; Red Willow County Convention and Visitors Bureau, $2,200; McCook Area Chamber of Commerce, $1,000; McCook Community College, $1,000; Community Hospital of McCook, $1,000; the McCook Economic Development Corp., $1,000; and the Heritage Square Committee, $200.
The MEDC, the city, the chamber and the visitors' bureau would have two board positions each.
The MEDC would act as lead organization, coordinate meetings and handle all funds received and expended.
The cooperative group will develop an overall marketing plan that promotes the strengths of living in McCook, delineate a target audience and develop materials promoting a "tag line" or "brand" and advertising/promotional programs to the target audience.
Superintendent Dave Schley said that he has been the schools' representative to the group and encouraged the board to remain involved and approve the contribution. The group has determined that McCook identifies more with the foothills of Colorado than eastern Nebraska, and it is working with Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson in Washington D.C., as it develops a marketing plan.
The school system, Schley said, is one of the most important components in attracting people, especially young families, to McCook.
Board members Larry Shields and Shane Messersmith had reservations about spending school taxpayers' money on the project. "We can spend the money better within our own budget," Shields said. Messersmith said the one-half cent sales tax that city voters approved for the MEDC should be used for the project rather than school funds. "It's not that much money," Messersmith said, "but that's what the EDC is supposed to do."
Schley explained that although the MEDC is involved in the cooperative group, it is not an MEDC project. He compared it to the grant-writing group, REWARDS, that the school district is involved in with other governmental entities. The work that has already gone into this project designed to promote McCook is "extensive," Schley said. "It would be embarrassing to pull out now. It is paramount for the school to be a player in this effort, for a minimal amount of money."
Haney said that MPS stands to gain $4,000 in state aid for each child whose family moves to McCook.
Board President Tom Bredvick said that it could cost considerably more if the school developed its own marketing plan. "It's expensive to hire professional marketing," he said.
Board member Maury Green said that board members have very often expressed their appreciation of the community's involvement in and support of the schools, especially through its athletics and activities. "It seems arrogant to thumb our noses at the community now," he said, calling the cooperative effort "worthwhile."
Shields cast the lone "Nay" vote on a motion to grant Schley the authority to sign the agreement.