PHOENIX ‒ Thanks to some creative thinking several years ago at the Arizona Department of Transportation, those blue logo signs along state highways are doing much more than helping you find a restaurant, gas station or hotel. They’re helping fund highway improvements while offering businesses a cost-effective way to promote themselves.
While many states use contractors to manage logo signs, Arizona is among those with their own programs. Operated since 2012 through Arizona Highways magazine, which is part of ADOT, Grand Canyon State Logo Signs has to date netted about $5 million for the State Highway Fund.
“We have approached this as a business without losing the community service aspect that is part of serving in a public agency,” said Bob Allen, chief financial officer of the Grand Canyon State Logo Signs program.
This fiscal year, the State Highway Fund may receive as much as $2.5 million from logo signs.GrandCanyonStateLogoSigns.com. In areas where demand exceeds the six available spaces on a sign, businesses are invited to bid for placements. After the bidding, bid amounts are posted to let future bidders know what to expect.
The program has been a hit. For example, just three companies bid for space on one Phoenix area sign in 2013. In 2016, 11 companies made bids. In 2017, there were 22. The total amount bid for the sign grew from $12,400 to $92,770 in just four years.
“Dollar for dollar, the blue freeway sign program is one of the most-affordable programs there is in the market,” said Jason Kveton, who operates Culver’s franchises in the Phoenix area. “I don’t think there will ever be a year we do not try to stay on the sign.”
And once businesses sign up, they stay. The program’s retention rate is 95 percent.
Mark Borenstein of Chompie’s Deli and Bakery said he likes having his company’s name on the signs and also likes that proceeds go to the State Highway Fund.
“It’s great to know that the money we’re spending is actually going to the construction of new roads or upkeep of these roads,” Borenstein said.