City, county and state revenues have been in the toilet for a while now, without much light at the end of the tunnel. Long debates have been had over government largesse, and building some sustainability into civic revenue models. The debates continue, and will for some time, as ideologies persist and political entrenchment holds firm. What remains indelibly true however is that all of these bodies – on a civic, state and federal level – need to find ways to create new revenue.
Not the paper kind. Not even the broadcast kind. Governments tend to hold sway over varied pieces of real estate, and not just court and state houses. Some control retail stores, most control rest stops, and many own wide swathes of land on the side of your most-travelled roadways. These public spaces all have one thing in common: traffic.
That traffic – and the controlled area through which people pass – can make that real estate valuable with the right media application. Traditionally, federal rules have limited the amount of advertising on the road side, as it was thought to be overly distracting. However, as revenue-pressures persist, those rules have begun to loosen. Recently, the city of Miami, Florida allowed companies like ClearChannel to erect gads of LCD billboards and other out-of-home concepts offering wares to passersby on the city-controlled land beside the highway. That allowance was not given away for free.
Necessity being the mother of invention, as the budget pinch continues an opening of bureaucratic minds is taking place. And the creative firms that develop campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands are bringing innovative, revenue-generating ideas to bear. Budget realities have created a window of opportunity, and those willing to do the government dance are finding a more receptive ear than in times past.
Public-private partnerships have always bucked tradition. Let’s hope the trend continues.