The development authority, a government agency, pays the chamber, a nonprofit, to host and staff its meetings.
Amy Selby, the chamber’s vice president of marketing and communications, outlined how the annual $80,000 the Development Authority provides the chamber for marketing was being spent during a Friday meeting of the authority’s board.
Authority board member Thea Powell raised her eyebrows as she reviewed various print ads stamped “Cobb Chamber.”
“These are not Development Authority ads,” Powell said. “These are ads that are placed by the chamber, so whatever language you want to use, don’t say we placed the ad when we don’t get any recognition. We’re just giving you the money.”
Selby defended the ads by saying that perhaps it was an oversight that not all of them mentioned the Development Authority. Some of the ads, Selby said, did indeed state “paid for by the Development Authority of Cobb County,” and in any case the ads were just a sample of what the chamber ran.
Powell said Selby may be able to read the fine print on some of the ads that referenced the Development Authority, but she could not see it.
Authority member Donna Rowe gave a brief history of how the authority came to pay the chamber for the ads. Until recently, Rowe said, “We paid, and the chamber did a magazine, and that wasn’t doing anything, and so instead of helping the chamber with their magazine, which ended up in the local dentist’s office or wherever — at the entrance to Kroger — we decided to move money over to be more technologically savvy and more print savvy as far as advertising our county.”
Now, the ads are targeted more precisely to reach key decision makers who are likely to have a say in a corporate relocation or other business venture.
Rowe sided with Powell in asking Selby to make an effort in promoting the authority in future advertisements.
Rowe said she would like to see the Development Authority’s name show up in a little bit larger print, “seeing as how we are paying the bill.”
“I mean, that’s like asking Lockheed to be a sponsor at a function and you put them on the back of the menu,” she said. “I want them to know that we’re here to help them. You see ‘chamber, chamber, chamber, chamber, chamber.’ Chamber isn’t going to do for them what we can do for them.”
Selby was quick to say that the chamber does help the community.
“Well I understand what the chamber does, I was a member for many, many years,” Rowe said. “I’m just saying that I believe that the dollars are being spent, we don’t mind spending the dollars, but we would like for people to know that we have a very strong, vibrant Development Authority here in Cobb County that’s here to assist in any way we can in conjunction with the chamber and the commissioners and the school board, etc. So I would like to see that be a little bit larger font.”
Powell also said the website the Development Authority pays the chamber to run, SelectCobb.com, was not being updated. Authority meetings were not being posted, nor had the change been made listing Dan McCrae as the authority’s new attorney. McCrae replaced George Dozier, who retired in December.
Chamber employee Nelson Geter, who serves as the Development Authority’s executive director, said both matters would be corrected moving forward.