Campaign impacts local economy

Published 12:01 am Saturday, July 30, 2011

NATCHEZ — Campaigning boosts candidates’ name recognition — for better or worse — but it also boosts the local economy. Unfortunately, according to some Miss-Lou businesses, candidates are also spending more campaign dollars out of town.

Out of nearly $90,000 spent so far in this county election season, candidates spent approximately $10,300 out of the Miss-Lou, according to campaign finance reports on file at the circuit clerk’s office.

The most popular out-of-town purchases are to online companies that print campaign signs and other materials.

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Still, some election spending — $80,000 of it — is better than no election spending, local business owners at Kimbrell’s Office Supply, Ketco Inc. and Smith’s Printing and Office Supply still said.

Owner of Kimbrell Office Supply Scott Kimbrell said he saw a slight increase in business due to candidates purchasing campaign materials.

“It usually just depends on the number of people running for the different offices,” he said. “There are several races that are uncontested, so it’s about the same or maybe a little less this year (compared to others).”

Kimbrell said probably the most costly campaign items his store sells to candidates are push cards, which display information about candidates on them and sometimes also include a candidate’s photograph.

“Push cards are … usually a full color process on both sides,” he said. “(Candidates) normally buy anywhere from 1,000-5,000 cards. A supervisor who’s just campaigning in one district might just buy 1,000 or 2,000, but somebody running countywide would of course use more than that.”

Kimbrell said most of the price depends on the quantity and how much prep work goes into type setting.

“The candidate could spend anywhere from $100-$500,” he said. “I know that’s a big, broad range, but it just depends.”

Tony Byrne, co-owner of Ketco Inc., described his increase in business as a “little bump,” and he said he would probably see another bump in business in January when people begin to decide that they’ll run for city offices.

Byrne said this year for the county elections, Ketco sold everything from can coolers (or “huggies”) to fans to emery boards.

“Usually there’s a minimum of anything ordered,” he said. “Right now can coolers are on sale so you can get 250 can coolers at 49 cents each.”

Since Ketco represents 3,800 manufactures, Byrne said, a candidate’s name can be printed on just about anything. The most unique thing he printed a candidate’s name on this year, he said, was a magnetic calendar.

The calendar starts in August, Byrne said, so it will have the person’s name on it all year, listed as a candidate.

Megan Whittington, a Mississippi State University student and a graphic design intern at Rhino Graphics in Vidalia, said she’s stayed pretty busy all summer.

“At least a few times a week we get an order or reorders for campaign materials,” she said.

Many of them are full digital prints for the yard signs, she said, which can run approximately $500-$2,000, depending on a number of factors, including the colors used and the number of signs sold.

Whittington also said they’ve sold magnets for the sides of cars, and some people have also come in to have shirts made.

Greg Smith, one of the owners of Smith’s Printing and Office Supply, said it seems as though people as tightening their belts some this year.

However, the business did make some money.

“A lot of people are getting full color push cards now and more color pictures now,” he said.

Smith estimated it would cost approximately $400 for 1,000 full-color push cards to be printed on both sides.

“(The business) has been pretty spread out through a lot of different printing companies, but every little bit helps,” he said.

“A lot of (candidates) are going on the Internet and going out of town, but we still appreciate the business we get. We’re glad to get what we get.”