What do “Shark Tank” star Kevin Harrington and Janesville have in common?
They both care about business, and they’re both in an infomercial featuring the city that will soon air nationally.
City staff on Monday unveiled a five-minute video that will broadcast on Fox Business Network and in 34 urban areas in the Midwest. The video’s goal is to encourage further development in Janesville, said Maggie Darr, assistant to the city manager.
The video will first premiere Saturday in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. Other places the video will show include St. Louis, Detroit and Cleveland, Darr said.
Modern Business, a program that profiles up-and-coming and successful companies, has a community segment that features municipalities. Producers reached out to Janesville leaders last summer. By fall, video production was underway, Darr said.
The clip starts with an introduction from Harrington. The video covers Janesville’s history, its growing and diversifying economy, and how staff can help and incentivize developers and business owners, among other things.
The video features interviews with Jane Blain Gilbertson, president and CEO of Blain’s Farm & Fleet; Edmund Halabi, owner of Italian House; and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
City officials hope the video encourages developers to come to Janesville.
“Given the markets it’s being aired on, and just the fact that it’s under the Modern Business name, I think the real goal is that economic development piece,” Darr said. “Anyone who sees it hopefully decides to consider Janesville when they haven’t before.”
They also hope the video changes some possible negative perceptions about the city.
“I think a lot of people hear ‘Janesville’ and they think, ‘GM’s gone, and that’s the end of that story.’ In reality, we know that’s certainly not the case,” Darr said. “So we saw this opportunity to get that story out as an economic development tool both nationally and regionally.”
Another perk is that the city owns full rights to the video. Staff plans to use the video internally and when enticing developers to locate to Janesville, Darr said.
“That now belongs to us, and we can use it for whatever sort of marketing and recruitment that we want to,” she said. “Now our economic development team, when they go places, they have this professionally produced tool.”
The final cost for the video was just under $25,000.
Forward Janesville and the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau chipped in $5,000 each. The city used $10,000 from two tax incremental financing districts, and the final $5,000 came from a $15,000 ARISE marketing fund the council had previously approved, Darr said.
The return on investment could be huge, she said.
“If we got one company because of this, it could pay itself off really quickly,” Darr said.
“I think we turned out with a good product, and I hope people in the community watch it and feel proud of living in Janesville and share it with people who don’t live here,” she said.