by Carol Thompson
Several Oswego County businesses are irked over a promotion currently underway that will allow 20 businesses to advertise on the county government web site for $5,495 per year.
The businesses questioned whether the county can legally promote private business and whether the county can give one business a competitive edge over another.
The county has a three year agreement with RCI Communications of Rochester. For a fee, the company will produce a short video clip that will be placed on the county’s web site.
“It’s $5,485 for one year on the county website and only 20 businesses can be invited to participate,” said one concerned business. “They (RCI) said there are a number already committed and mentioned several business names.”
Those approached to purchase an ad said they were told there will be a direct link to each sponsored business’ web site. “She (RCI representative) said she was very surprised the county would allow it,” the concerned business representative said, adding that the company representative said it was a “gray line.”
Businesses unable to afford the offer said they feel it is unfair for the county to participate in such a program and the limited number of ads the company is selling is unjustly restrictive.
They also question why the county is not using a local company to produce the videos or doing them with their own staff. Several business owners questioned if the county went out to bid to seek a company to provide the service.
Oswego County Promotion and Tourism Director Dave Turner said the county did not go out to bid or seek proposals.
“There is no county expense involved and we are not associated with the ad sales so I do not know what they are proposing to folks,” he said.
“This was introduced to us by the National Association of County Organizations in July and was discussed with Louella LeClair, Fred Beardsley and Phil Church prior to implementation,” Turner continued. “The county is not purchasing anything for this project and no one in the community is obligated to either. We are promoting the county as a great place to live, work and raise a family. Any business or organization that feels they will benefit from this project and wants to be a part of the campaign is welcome to participate.”
The businesses said it is not true that anyone can participate. They said they were told Tuesday that there are only a few spots left.