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Newport says 'no thanks' to cable TV promotional video with nearly $20K price tag

The city of Newport recently was approached by a Coral Springs, Fla., production company to be the next location for an upcoming promotional TV feature meant to tout the city's economic development prospects.

However, with a price tag to the city of nearly $20,000, Newport City Council members voted last Thursday to take a pass on the film venture.

The brainchild of famed National Football League quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the Fox Business series "Communities of Distinction" explores the companies, industries and people of the featured cities.

Producers with the new television series that showcases commuter towns and bedroom communities around the country through five-minute promotional segments contacted Newport city officials in January with an offer to feature the city of just over 3,400 residents.

A recent phone conversation with Brian Sullivan, the show's associate producer, who was at the Florida studio, put pressure on council members to decide quickly if the city wanted to secure a summer film date.

"I was completely on the fence before talking with the company and after talking to them I am still on the fence," said council member Steven Gallagher. "My gut feeling is telling me that this is not the best way to spend $20,000 of our taxpayers' money."

If the project were approved, Newport City Administrator Deb Hill said it would have been funded through the Economic Development Fund, which is primarily made up of property tax revenue.

Mayor Tim Geraghty said during the phone conference with Sullivan early last week that he wanted the documentary to focus on the city's transportation transformation and to emphasize that Newport is "ready for business to come." Yet, despite the vision for a more business friendly Newport, council member Tom Ingemann said during Thursday's council meeting that he was not convinced on the video proposal.

"The producers were talking about how great and wonderful this project is, but we have to remember that they are also selling a project," Ingemann said.

Throughout the last week, Gallagher spoke with several communities in Texas and California that have participated in the documentary and said while each city did not regret being involved with the project, city officials said they were unhappy with the lack of investment return.

"If we don't have a package of advertisements or a marketing plan it doesn't do us any good," Gallagher added. "Maybe we should look into doing a market trade study analysis to see what business would be financially viable here instead of doing a shotgun approach."

Council member Tracy Rahm agreed and said if the project is available now, it will be available in the coming year.

Newport is not the only area community that's been approached by a production company.

Cottage Grove City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said that Cottage Grove had also been approached by a similar outfit several years ago, but he declined to pursue the venture, which would have cost the city.

If Newport had decided to participate in the "Communities of Distinction" project, a Florida film crew would have tentatively begun filming in either late spring or early summer. The five-minute segment would contain brief interviews with local citizens, business owners and city officials, and would be broadcast once on the Fox Business channel. The city would then receive the legal rights to the film and could broadcast it on local cable channels.