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Our View: Taking a big step forward — together

"Think Santa Clarita Valley"

Posted: April 25, 2009 8:47 p.m.
Updated: April 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
What’s in a name?

Quite a bit, if you’re crafting a marketing campaign that’s intended to boost the local economy on both sides of Santa Clarita’s municipal border.

Pick the wrong name and you shoot yourself in the foot.

The lesson came home Friday when city and community leaders heard from representatives of the unincorporated parts of our valley
who weren’t comfortable with the slogan “Think Santa Clarita.”

That’s not the message the city or the SCV Chamber of Commerce intended or wanted to send.

They wanted to tell people that in these tough economic times, it’s important for us to support each other. Give your local moms and pops, and all businesses of the Santa Clarita Valley, a chance before you turn to other parts of the county, or the country, for goods and services.

Bottom line: In this economy, we need to look out for No. 1 — each other and our community.

“Think Santa Clarita Valley.”

Now, if you weren’t here a half-dozen years ago, you might not know what all the fuss was about or why we’d devote an entire editorial to the importance of adding one word to a marketing slogan.

It’s like this.

Back then, the city and county weren’t getting along too well. We were a far cry from “one valley” with “one vision,” and the city wanted all the sales tax dollars it could get its mitts on.

It asked folks to “Shop Santa Clarita” — and only Santa Clarita — only between the 5 and 14 freeways. Only inside city limits.

The message was that if you shop in the city, one sales-tax cent of every dollar spent would go to fire and police services, parks, roads and so forth. Spend money outside city limits in places like Stevenson Ranch or Castaic, and there’s no guarantee the sales tax revenue would come all the way back here after it gets sent to the county in downtown Los Angeles.

The reaction from the good people outside the city limits was instantaneous and understandable.

“Shop Santa Clarita” effectively told people they’re hurting the city if they patronize a business in Castaic — even though that very same business owner might live inside city limits and buy a car on Auto Row. It told people not to patronize restaurants west of I-5 — even though the waiters and waitresses spend their tips at the Valencia mall.

The spilled blood has barely dried, so it’s no surprise that our community leaders in Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Westridge and other unincorporated areas got their dander up when they thought the city was at it again.

But the city wasn’t at it again.

The city’s intent with this campaign was for it to benefit the entire valley.  Unfortunately, that was poorly communicated, and when you add in past history you get the unincorporated areas’ reaction.

So now it’s “Think Santa Clarita Valley.” At least it will be if the Santa Clarita City Council endorses it on Tuesday.

To get to this point there are plenty of kudos to go around  — to the city for making a big statement that we are “One Valley,” to City Councilman Bob Kellar for endorsing and advocating the inclusion of the word “Valley,” to West Ranch Town Council members (including Ron Mechsner, Dave Bossert and Don Fleming) for passionate leadership, to the Agua Dulce Town Council (Mary Johnson) and the Castaic Chamber board (Jack Crawford) who eloquently voiced their respective community’s concerns, and the SCV Chamber (Bill Kennedy, John Shaffery, Larry Mankin) who are playing integral roles in the strategic details behind the campaign.

“Think Santa Clarita Valley.” Shop here. Hire here. Locate your business here. Dine here. Recreate here.

Sure, it’s partly about capturing sales tax dollars. They’re still the meat and potatoes of our city and county government services.

But go ahead and spend your dollars in the unincorporated areas of our valley. If the county doesn’t reinvest them here, we’ll rattle our sabers at the Board of Supervisors.

“Think Santa Clarita Valley.”

It is the right message at the right time.

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