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WHAT IF? — Above is an artist’s rendition of a possible future where The West Volusia Beacon Ocean Center looms large in Daytona Beach. This future is possible as the Volusia County Council eyes the possibility of corporate sponsorships of county assets. The county has entered into marketing partnerships in the past, such as the now-defunct one with Coca-Cola. The prospect of tapping the private sector for advertising on county assets emerged during the County Council’s deliberations on its 2022 budget.

Volusia County’s leaders want to sell the right to advertise on certain county-owned assets to companies that want to tout their goods and services.

In their quest for a greater market share, the reasoning goes, these firms may be willing to pay — and pay big — to emblazon their names of and brands on landmarks that draw large numbers of locals and visitors who may be tempted to buy their products.

Imagine: The Coppertone Beach Approach, or the Walmart Baseball Park, or the Shell Oil Dune Walkover, or the Books A Million Public Library, or the Mr. Clean Landfill. 

Or how about this — The Beacon Lighthouse in Ponce Inlet?

Sensing there is a huge source of revenue waiting to be captured for the county”s coffers, County Council members and administratively staffers are eyeing sponsorships and naming rights for public facilities. 

“What we’re looking for is qualified people … to be able to share in marketing partnerships,” Purchasing Director Jeaniene Jennings told the council Oct. 19. “Show us.”

Jennings said companies “trying to see that they’ve got national exposure” would probably be interested in doing business with the county government. The business deals for sponsorships for national events could include merchandise, as well as payments. 

Jennings and others recalled the county’s 1999 marketing agreement with Panama Jack. Under the five-year Suncare Sponsorship Program, Panama Jack provided on-duty clothing for lifeguards and other beach personnel, along with sunscreen, umbrellas and tide boards, all prominently bearing the company’s name.

She remembered, too, Volusia County’s marketing arrangement with Coca-Cola. 

“They [Coke] had an exclusive agreement,” Jennings said.

The contract mandated a monopoly of Coca-Cola and its brands in vending machines inside and on county property and the exclusive sale of Coke products by concessionnaires on the beaches. 

During 2007-12, the final five years of the county’s marketing relationship with Coca-Cola, the bottler paid $878,000 to the county and provided some $517,000 worth of advertising and products.

After some discussion, the County Council agreed to solicit requests for proposals from firms desiring to advise and assist the county in forging new marketing agreements that will benefit both the county and the companies vying for name recognition. The proposals would be refined in the coming weeks and months. 

The County Council unanimously agreed to seek outside help in developing policies to govern the selling of naming rights and forming partnerships with the private sector. 

There is no idea how many companies may compete for naming things after themselves.

The county chair suggested the county choose wisely.

“If you get 30 … pare it down to five,” County Chair Jeff Brower said.

Jennings said the County Council would have to approve any contracts for naming rights and sponsorships.

“Everything will be brought back to you,” she said.

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