“Plano First” Campaign Suspended But Still Needed

Educational effort becomes a victim of the same problems that sparked the push.

A campaign to promote shopping in Plano has been postponed -- even though the city is losing millions in sales tax revenue.

"Plano First" was supposed to be the catchphrase for an educational campaign to get people to shop and dine in Plano. But because of tough times at the Chamber of Commerce, the organization has suspended the effort.

Most people shop based on need or deals. But how many think of shopping as a civic responsibility?

"I definitely patronize Plano, I've lived here for a while," Rashe Johnson.

Johnson said she understands that the revenue from the sales taxes she pays goes directly to Plano's general fund budget to pay for services.

Sales taxes are used to pay for basic city services, such as police, firefighters, parks and roads.

But Kristen Fagelman said she didn't know her shopping habits mattered.

"I wasn't even aware that my sales dollars if I shopped here would be helping out the community," she said.

Plano has seen its sales tax revenue decline significantly because of increased competition from neighboring cities and the poor economy.

According to Plano's budget office, sales taxes have declined in four of the last six months during the current fiscal year, which began in October. The drop of almost 6.4 percent represents a loss of more than $2.1 million over the same period of time last year.

But just when Plano needs to encourage people to shop at home, financial troubles have put the brakes on the Plano First campaign.

"There's been a lot of layoffs, there's been some foreclosures, there's been some tough time," said Brad Shanklin, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

There is talk that the city of Plano could pick up whether the chamber left off, but the reason for the campaign in the first place -- lower revenue coming in -- remains.

Fagelman said a campaign may be worth the investment so other residents like her can be educated.

"I think if I knew that, I would make more of an effort to shop here for that reason," she said.

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