Springfield in the spotlight

PBS segment to highlight the capital city

Public television viewers across the country will soon learn what Springfield has to offer, thanks to a television feature hosted by actor Dennis Quaid.

The Big Easy star hosts the Viewpoint Project, which specializes in short-form public television stories. Each story highlights specific industries, communities or topics around the world.

Producers from the show reached out to Springfield leaders wanting to produce a story about the capital city, said Amy Beadle, marketing manager of the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"They were looking for a city in Illinois that would be willing to go through the process of getting this all arranged and then being available for a film crew," she said. "It's been a process that began last August. It's taken a little bit of time to get everything pulled together and see everything come to fruition."

She said the demographics of PBS's core audience is consistent with that of tourists who visit Springfield.

"The majority is going to be that 45 to 65-plus (age range)," she said. "They are that boomer generation – grandparents traveling with grandchildren. And so, we felt like PBS really had the level of professionalism, along with the audience that they attract for their viewership, that it made real good sense for us to take part in this project."

Beadle said the segment about Springfield is about five minutes long and will likely reach 60 million households during the next year. While filming for the PBS segment, work was also done for a one-minute commercial and a six-minute marketing video.

The one-minute commercials will appear not only on PBS but on CNN, BBC, MSNBC and other television channels, Beadle said. The six-minute marketing video will be used by the SCVB to attract conventions and visitors throughout the region.

The city of Springfield spent $24,500 to underwrite the cost of the filming.

"Our advertising budget comes from the hotel-motel tax. So, it's not paid for by local residents," Beadle said.

Beadle noted:

• Tourism is a $483 million industry in Springfield and Sangamon County.

• At least 1 million people visit Springfield each year.

• 3,500 area jobs are supported by the tourism industry, accounting for a $110 million annual payroll.

• Tourists pay about $10 million in sales taxes locally each year.

Among the people interviewed for the short documentary was Ryan McCrady, executive director of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance.

"The only story I have to tell is the truth, and it's a good one," he said. "I think that it's important for people to know that when you look at Springfield and when you look at what we have to offer, it's a great place to live and a great place to have your business.

"You have the ability to enjoy a top-notch community at a cost of living that is about 93% of the national average. We have a good, diverse set of career opportunities, which is important to families, because most families don't all work in the same place or the same industry."

Scott Reeder a staff writer for Illinois Times can be reached at [email protected].

About The Author

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder is a staff writer at Illinois Times.

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