The recent federal stimulus packages are unprecedented, both in terms of their scale and complexity. However, the overarching goal for businesses was simple: stimulate the economy. If you're a magazine or newspaper owner, you may still be wondering how (or if) your publication can access these media stimulus funds.
We’ve put together a series of articles to clear the air on media stimulus. In this first piece, we'll walk through the basics of funds available through the CARES Act, and how they make their way to magazines, newspapers, and digital news businesses.
To help us digest this topic, Ross Furukawa, Co-Founder and President of Santa Monica Daily Press, recently sat down with us to review the types of media funding for publishers that are available from state and local governments.
Is it too late to access stimulus funding?
Limited time remains to benefit from stimulus funding in your area. In fact, some of the funding from almost a year ago is still available now.
The reason that so much of the stimulus funding remains unused comes down to bureaucracy. Quite simply, it takes time for massive amounts of funding to move from the federal government down to state governments, then to counties, and finally, to individual municipalities.
A person (or team) allocates funding at every level and ensures the money is used for its intended purpose. In some cases, committees must be formed and meet to discuss economic development measures.
Determine Who Allocates Media Stimulus in Your Area
The key to unlocking government aid for your publishing business is to determine the point person (or persons) for economic development in your region. Any city is going to have someone in charge of economic development. It’s this work that fuels budgetary decisions.
Depending on the composition of your local government, you may try seeking out your:
- City manager
- County supervisor
- City council
- City attorney
Once you figure out who manages allocation of stimulus or economic development funding, their discretion often boils down to one simple question: “Does this kickstart economic activity?”
This is good news for you! As a publisher, you are a driving force of economic activity in your market—every ad you sell has a direct effect on local commerce.
There’s another reason your involvement with local government matters, and it directly affects their bottom line. Let’s talk about municipal credit ratings.
Local Publishers Are Vital to City and Municipal Credit Ratings
It’s no secret that local governments rely upon credit ratings to borrow the funding necessary to get projects done. Now, did you know that local media presence is a variable that affects these credit ratings?
From a credit rating perspective, local media businesses provide valuable watchdog coverage that deters corrupt behavior. More media outlets means more coverage, which equates to a higher credit rating. As such, city managers know that it’s in their best interest to keep their local media alive and healthy.
The credit rating link makes it an “easy ask” to get access to economic development funds. In Ross’ case, the funds were used to create informative content for the local audience about boosting local business during a time of economic crisis. This approach benefits everyone: the local government, local businesses, and local media.