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About those $100,000 new signs at Ohios borders

(January 23, 2019) — The times — and the signs — are changing.

As Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted transition into their new offices, signs throughout the state are being updated to reflect the administration change.

The Ohio Department of Transportation oversees 36 road signs on the state’s borders that feature the names of the governor and lieutenant governor.

In 2015, TourismOhio launched the “Ohio. find it here” rebranding campaign, which required an update to the border signs. Four signs were upgraded in 2016 with the new slogan and names of the then-governor and lieutenant governor, John Kasich and Mary Taylor. The remaining 32 signs were scheduled to be replaced after an administration change to avoid doing it twice, according to ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning.

“We opted to do it all at once to avoid having to change out names on new signs,” Bruning said in an email.

The new signs will cost more than $100,000; TourismOhio will pay more than half of the cost, with ODOT covering the remainder, Bruning said. Nameplates will be placed over the existing four signs at an additional cost of $165; those will be installed in coming weeks.

The signs, which replaced the “Welcome to Ohio” signage, are navy blue and feature an orange outline of the state. The phrase “find it here” is printed in lowercase above the executive officers’ names.

Opinions on the campaign vary; one Twitter user wrote, “It’s fantastically awful.” Multiple users questioned whether it was designed by a child, and many thought it was a joke.

The branding “reinforces, on an emotional level, the joy, happiness, excitement and shared connections people experience in Ohio,” according to TourismOhio’s website. However, the campaign’s intention was lost to some.

“Are we luring people from around the country to Ohio by swiping their stuff and hiding it somewhere between Conneaut and Cincinnati so they can Find it Here? Is Ohio the end of a scavenger hunt?” one person tweeted.

In response, TourismOhio Director Matthew MacLaren noted the brand’s success in bringing $44 billion to the state in 2017 and prompting 219 million visits to Ohio.

“That’s a good sign that (the brand) is working,” MacLaren said.

More conventional signs also will be updated at various state agencies.

The Department of Natural Resource’s State Parks and Watercrafts division ordered roughly 215 nameplates to update the names of the governor and ODNR director on state park entrance signs, according to spokesman Eric Heis. The nameplates cost about $7,500, taking into account that 40 percent of the old plates were able to be reused and refurbished, he said.

Three juvenile correctional facilities also require new signage: Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility, Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility and Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility. In total, the Department of Youth Services is estimated to pay $401 for the signs, according to Deputy Director Kim Jump.

Signs at the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s 27 institutions will be updated. However, each institution handles signage independently, spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said, so an estimated cost is unknown. Signage for new state officeholders at the Statehouse and letterheads on government literature also will be revised. There is no estimated cost for these changes, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board spokesman Luke Stedke said.