The Midland based Mackinac Center for Public Policy says the "Pure Michigan" ad campaign is a waste of money and doesn't bring in the money the state says it does.

(Pure Michigan via YouTube)

The group admits the ads and billboards are a hit with residents, but claims they are a financial flop. The Mackinac Center says the state spent $261 million on the campaign in the past decade, but only made approximately $5,220,000 in return.

“Michigan taxpayers may love seeing their town or favorite destination highlighted but they deserve to know they’re paying a hefty price tag for those ads with very little to show for it,” said LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Center. “It’s incumbent on lawmakers to examine the costs and benefits of the Pure Michigan ad campaign so they can determine if the tens of millions of dollars they earmark for it each year would be better spent elsewhere, such as on repairing roads or cutting taxes.” -Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The Mackinac Center says the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is lying when it claims every dollar spent generates $7.67 in tourism income. That figure came from a Canadian company (Longwoods International). The Mackinac Center says MEDC won't divulge the methodology they used to come up with their figures.

The Mackinac Center says it's researchers used government data:

researchers of this study relied upon publicly available data from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Travel Association. Their statistical model is detailed in the study and reveals that for every $1 million increase in state tourism promotion spending, only $20,000 is generated for hotels, resorts and other lodging businesses. That industry’s employees saw no increase in pay, and no other travel-related sector saw a meaningful benefit from the spending.

Now before we all start taking sides, lets step back and look at the numbers. The state appropriation for "Pure Michigan" next year is $34 million. There are 9,910,000 residents. That works out to just under $3.50 per person.  The Mackinac Center says the money could be used to lower taxes. Well, for a family of four, that's $14.00 a year. So for that same family of four, you're taxes would go down 25 cents per pay period.

At the same time, $3.50 is cheaper than going to a movie. What's wrong with our egos being stroked a little? After what we've been through in the past decade, maybe being reminded of how great parts of this state are is worth it. Call it bragging rights.