Are you a bank willing to chip in $500,000 toward the upkeep of Texas state parks?
In return, you could put the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department logo on your credit card and get your company name on trail maps.
Desperate to shore up its finances following budget cuts, the state parks department recently announced it is turning to corporate partnerships for at least a modest boost to its coffers.
The Legislature cut the agency’s budget by 17.6 percent, or $114 million, for the 2012-13 biennium. As a result, the department eliminated 169 full-time positions, 111 of which were occupied. It closed two regional offices and reduced the budget for minor repairs and park support. The agency also slashed much of the money it put toward a program that doles out matching grants to cities, counties and other local entities to develop their parks.
And leading into the upcoming legislative session, Gov. Rick Perry has asked state agencies to describe how they would make another 10 percent in cuts.
The parks department is soliciting partnerships through an official request for proposals, which includes a menu of partnership options ranging from “$100,000-$149,999″ to “$500,000 or more.”
“This is charting new waters for us,” said Darcy Bontempo, marketing director at the parks department. “We’ll probably have a few missteps along the way. But as long as nothing interferes with the integrity of our brand, our sites or the visiting experience — if we stay true to that — everything is a creative process with our corporate partners.”
The department has long had a relationship with the private, charitable Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, which has raised more than $70 million since 1991 for state parks projects.
But corporate partnership opens up new possibilities for revenue. The agency could, say, net some proceeds of the sales of a special edition “Texas Parks” Ford F-250 pickup.