Nashville city council recently approved an ordinance that authorizes the city’s parks board to allow and govern sponsorship of park programs, events, facilities and projects. Nashville is one of many cities nationwide looking to benefit from private sector money being filtered into public sector partnerships.
According to the Nashville ordinance, the parks board is able to adopt rules and regulations regarding what events and facilities can be sponsored by private entities, the amount of advertisement collateral permitted and what company types are eligible for the sponsorships.
The city’s director of parks explained the ordinance is making it easy for the city to accommodate the preferences of businesses interested in sponsoring events or facilities. By making advertising easier on public parks lands, sponsorship interest will likely increase, which will help fund sustainable developments in the future. The more financial agreements made between the public and private sectors, the less burden is placed on taxpayers to fund improvements, revitalization and development initiatives.
While smaller sponsorship agreements can be dealt with by the parks board, deals exceeding $25,000 must be approved by the city council.
The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder released its 15th annual report examining private sector sponsorship and commercialism in public schools. The report acknowledges the tight budgets cities are forced to work with in light of the economic recession, and how private sector sponsorships of public amenities has provided financial supplements to development initiatives. As more schools continue to pursue school-business partnerships, however, researchers warn there may be negative side effects of allowing the companies to get too close to the students.
Despite corporate sponsorships in schools providing lost revenue, many districts have allowed foods and beverages of little to no nutritional value to be placed in front of students in exchange for the funding. Most corporations are looking to increase customer volume by placing products in school cafeterias , hallways and classrooms. The students exposed to these products regularly, unfortunately, may experience physical and psychological health problems over time.
When children do not receive proper nutrition, it is difficult to concentrate and retain information. Furthermore, consuming large quantities of sugar each day with limited exercise promotes childhood obesity. The report recommends school districts thoroughly vet the bidding corporate sponsors before reaching an agreement, taking into account how the products and marketing tactics will impact education and wellness of the students.
Make A Policy
To ensure certain rules are followed and considerations made before accepting money, many cities are drafting corporate sponsorship policies that outline what the partnerships must include, how the money will be used and a comprehensive timeline for achieving the goals. The Montgomery, Maryland, Planning Board recently created a corporate sponsorship policy that includes:
- Definition of sponsorship
- Goals of sponsorship
- Expected returns and use of funds
- Program timeline
The overall strategy includes a development phase and an implementation phase, allowing ample time for a strategy to be laid out and resources to be utilized most effectively.
Public Meets Private