The new Sanford-funded Build Dakota vo-tech scholarship program includes some gravy for Lawrence & Schiller. Out of $25 million from T. Denny Sanford and $25 million from the Governor's Future Fund, the state will spend 0.5%*, $250,000, on marketing the scholarships and the jobs they target.
Now hold on: the state is going to offer free vo-tech programs to 300 students a year for the first five years, then 50 more a year. That's free education. Free pretty much markets itself. The reps from Southeast, Lake Area, Mitchell, and Western Dakota don't need a TV campaign; they just keep doing their high school visits and add one line to their pitch: "By the way, it's free." Boom—marketing done!
We won't need to market the jobs any more than the scholarships. Those first 300 scholarshipped vo-tech graduates will be required to work in South Dakota for three years or pay back the money. They won't need an ad campaign to point them to their required payback.
Maybe the marketing budget is just a gift to the state's favored ad agency Lawrence & Schiller, a Christmas congratulations for their great work on the safe-driving campaign. Now what can we do to get Mitchell Tech on The Daily Show?
P.S.: The South Dakota Department of Education already lists the Build Dakota vo-tech scholarship on its website. I'll bet that marketing didn't cost $250,000.
*Correction 16:09 CST: The original version of the story mistakenly listed the marketing budget as 2% of the planned $50 million. I regret the error and will remind my next math class to always check their work.