Promoting Newport: Council up’s the ante with promoting digitally and on the internet and finds a way to help homeowners on NE 70th.
Smartening up Newport’s tourism advertising
After much back and forth about how to improve Newport’s face to the public and to get more tourists to come to Newport and spend their money, the Newport City Council agreed to award a $123,000 contract to the Newport News-Times as a sole provider of printed promotions, but more importantly to move Newport’s tourism promotions more into social internet media including ads on Facebook and other popular websites. City Councilor Ralph Busby complained that the contract was not nearly specific enough about what the city is supposed to receive by spending all this money and how those benefits would be measured.
City Manager Spencer Nebel and City Attorney Steve Rich seemed to agree with Councilor Busby’s basic argument, promising that once this contract is approved city staff will move to provide more clarity and transparency in next year’s contract for similar services. They pointed out that the contract, shepherded by the Destination Newport Committee, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, reflected lots of hours of examining better tourism promotion and in grappling with how to measure tourism responses to such promotions. At best it appeared to involve as much art as science with hopefully innovative appeals to “target audiences” via internet social media that puts more “heads in beds” during peak tourism periods.
So the upshot was that they approved the proposal with the newspaper for brochures and digital media but with a caveat that city staff will try to get its collective mind wrapped around what it is that cutting advertising methods are, how they work, and how to optimize them for Newport – and also understanding how much such talents are worth in terms of fees charged for such services. In short, getting up to speed about how to more effectively promote Newport while keeping costs down in a whole era of advertising.
Helping homeowners on NE 70th cash out their lost homes
The council also approved a plan to help the folks who lost 7 homes along NE 70 Street last winter when the hill their largely manufactured homes sat on, slumped and actually slid out from under one family.
The plan, developed largely by City Manager Spencer Nebel and Community Development Director Derrick Tokos, was worked out with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which has agreed to pay 75% of the pre-storm values of the affected homes before they were undermined by unstable soils on the bluff overlooking a canyon to the north. The surviving homes will be transported to an area at the Newport Airport where they will sit until they can be converted, one way or another, to affordable housing. FEMA’s conditions for the deal is that the homes are donated to the cause of homelessness or affordable housing. It was observed that such donations could be made to Habitat for Humanity or other worthy agencies or groups that are trying to provide homes for the growing legions of homeless families or to families that are within a paycheck or two of becoming homeless themselves.