Small budget, little time to promote Stilly tourism

EVERETT — Arlington, Oso and Darrington are open for business.

Community and business leaders are desperate to get that message out in the wake of the Oso Mudslide, which killed at least 41 people and cut off Highway 530.

A temporary bypass road is open, but they worry that only a whisper of summer tourists will come to the towns along the North Fork Stillaguamish River. Many local businesses depend on tourist dollars to carry them through winter.

“We’re concerned about having two winters,” Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert said.

The state Department of Commerce is bankrolling an advertising campaign to get tourists out to Arlington, Oso and Darrington.

With summer quickly approaching, the campaign will have little time to reach its target audience. And at $150,000, it will be working with a small budget.

“We’ll have to be nimble and stay up late,” said Wendy Becker of the Snohomish County Office of Economic Development. She is overseeing the campaign.

The message, the medium — nothing has been decided yet, she said.

The county just awarded the contract Wednesday — to BrandQuery, a Mount Vernon-based company. Five firms bid for the work.

Representatives from BrandQuery and county officials are scheduled to sit down Thursday evening with community and business leaders in Darrington.

The town’s summer events start soon with Darrington Day on May 31. The summer lineup includes the Darrington Bluegrass Festival, the Darrington Timberbowl Rodeo and the Summer Meltdown music festival. Arlington really gets going in July with a Fourth of July parade, followed a few days later by the Fly-In, an airshow.

Gov. Jay Inslee OK’d funding the campaign with money from a state economic-development reserve.

The campaign is to be rolled out no later than June 12, according to Economic Alliance Snohomish County. The alliance is the group that is actually writing checks for the work, while the county is managing it.

“That timeline scares me,” said Matt Mikulsky, owner and creative director for Chatter Creative, after hearing an outline of the campaign.

The Edmonds-based advertising agency’s local clients include the Future of Flight Aviation Center &Boeing Tour at Paine Field in Mukilteo.

The June 12 deadline does not leave much time for planning a campaign on a limited budget, he said.

The planning process can get quickly bogged down if several decision-makers have to sign off on the work, rather than one or two, Mikulsky said. “Things can move pretty quick in this day and age. But they move as quickly as your client.”

And that can be costly.

“A lot of a budget can get swallowed up by pitching and meetings. Design, that’s not usually as big a part,” he said.

Becker said she expects to share the campaign outline with state Commerce Department officials.

It is not clear, though, how involved state officials will be in the planning process.

People have been very responsive to issues related to the slide, she said.

Already, volunteers are working with the U.S. Forest Service to get trails ready for the summer. Last month, Congress saved the 1930s-era Green Mountain Lookout near Darrington, which had been mired in litigation involving environmentalists and the federal government.

“We worked on Green Mountain for several years,” Becker said. In Congress, “it took, what, seven days to save it.”

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

More in Local News

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Most Read