Everything costs money these days, even an image.
That's why eight San Gabriel Valley cities have agreed to spend $5,000 each to develop the kind of image that they hope will allow the area to compete for businesses with the Inland Empire, the San Fernando Valley and Orange County.
City officials have long complained that developers shun the San Gabriel Valley because of its lack of identity.
"It's a good idea because commercial development such as hotels and corporate headquarters will be more inclined to locate in the San Gabriel Valley if they are aware of the area," said Duarte Mayor John Hitt.
"It's significant and worthwhile to broaden the perceptions of people outside Southern California who are casting about for a location in Los Angeles County," Hitt added.
The effort to raise money for a marketing study began when the city managers of West Covina, Monrovia and Alhambra met to discuss which cities had active economic development programs and would have the most to gain financially, said Steve Wylie, assistant to the West Covina city manager.
West Covina took the lead and approached 11 of the 23 cities in the area bounded by the Pomona Freeway, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Long Beach Freeway and the Foothill and Orange freeways.
A report sent to the 11 cities concluded that the region lacks a regional image because most of the cities have their own development programs, strive for individuality and pursue varying economic goals. The report also cited the diversity of the region's population and culture and the lack of a major landmark or other unifying element.
Alhambra, El Monte, Irwindale, Monterey Park, West Covina, Baldwin Park, Duarte and Monrovia each agreed to provide $5,000. In addition, the West Covina Chamber of Commerce will contribute $5,000.
Pasadena, Covina, Glendora and San Dimas declined to take part.
"Pasadena was not interested in actively participating because it has its own identity," said Monrovia City Manager James Starbird.
San Dimas City Manager Bob Poff said: "Traditionally, our joint ventures are with La Verne, Claremont and Pomona. . . . We tend to associate easterly into the Pomona Valley."
Nobody in Glendora is against promoting the San Gabriel Valley, said City Manager James Evans, but the city would not benefit from participating in the study. "We have very little land left to develop, so we seek out specific businesses rather than take a broad-based regional approach," he said. "But we are interested in the effort."
Covina will keep the door open for participating later, said City Manager John Thompson. He said the Covina City Council did not think it was fair to charge each city the same amount for the study instead of basing contributions on such factors as population and tax base.
Public Technology Inc., a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National League of Cities, has agreed to conduct the marketing study.
The company will define the goals and objectives of the cities individually and as a group, develop a marketing strategy and conduct educational workshops for city officials. The actual marketing effort would come later.
Bill Mascenik, West Coast manager of Public Technology, said the process is the same no matter what the area is. "What the strengths are and how the area compares with other regions will be part of the study," he said.
After the initial study, expected to take six months, a long-term marketing program will be undertaken, Starbird said. However, he said it will require more money.