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This illustration, created by PacWest for the city of Hermiston, shows what a design for a downtown banner could look like.

A private-public partnership could add a little flair to downtown Hermiston.

During the Monday, Feb. 9, city council meeting, Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said the city had been approached by CGI Communications about a partnership to bring decorative banners downtown.

The banners would be attached to the new black light posts spread throughout the downtown area, and would include the words “Downtown Hermiston” with imagery, such as the city’s watermelon logo or historic photos. Across the bottom 30% of the banner would be the name of a Hermiston business.

Morgan said CGI Communications would provide the banners, installation, maintenance and annual replacement of the banners at no cost to the city in exchange for keeping the revenue generated by selling sponsorship of the banners to local businesses. The city would retain full artistic control of the banners, including being able to dictate a matching font for business names on the banners.

The city previously entered into a similar partnership with CGI Communications, when the company produced videos about Hermiston featured on the city’s website in exchange for selling advertising to local businesses for the beginning of the videos. Morgan said the videos have 48 local sponsors.

City councilors had questions about the arrangement, including the price of banner sponsorship for local businesses and how the city could guarantee the banners wouldn’t end up becoming ragged and faded. Councilor Nancy Peterson wanted to know if the company had provisions for making sure small locally owned businesses had an equal opportunity with large corporations for a spot on a banner, and Morgan said the video sponsorships were all smaller businesses.

Councilor Maria Duron said she questions whether now, when many businesses are reeling from COVID-19 impacts, was the best time to ask them to spend more money. Morgan said the city could look into providing a grant to the Hermiston Downtown Association for some of the banners.

Councilor Roy Barron wanted to know if the banners could be bilingual, and said he liked how the banners fit in thematically with the planned wayfinding sign project the city will be installing soon.

“I love the continuity,” he said.

Overall, councilors said they supported the idea and would like to see Morgan come back in the future with more answers to their questions and options for banner designs.

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