In December 2011, Texas state parks announced a budget shortfall and a plea for some help. While individuals have made contributions, FOX26 Meteorologist John Dawson showed us businesses who have become creative in how they’re helping out, KRIV-TV, Houston, reported.

“What we had was a $4.6 million hole in this year’s budget to fill and one for next year as well, so we were facing budget situations where you know we had to look all of our options to continue to do services that the public demands and wants,” said Bryan Frazier, promotions and marketing guy for Texas State Parks. “That got us to where some businesses, businesses that share our core mission, come to us and get involved.”

When companies donate time and money, those tight-budgeted dollars get stretched much further. Central Texas RV Dealer Crestview RV and Geico Insurance, through their agency Good Solutions Group, came forward and put together a proposal for a state park RV.

“And what it does is, it allows us to be able to have a marketing situation where we’re driving up and down the highway with bold, colorful state park graphics, and getting the message out,” said Frazier. “We drive around the state and take it to RV shows and travel shows, take it to park events. It becomes an interactive display.”

Another example here in the Houston area is Brazos Bend State Park. It was finally able to replace a 27-year-old wooden sign that was really showing its age.

“A world-class park needs a world-class sign,” said Steve Killian, park manager. “And with the budgetary situation as it stands today, without Thor and Signs By Tomorrow’s help, a local business, there no way we would have a sign welcoming visitors from Houston and all over the world.”

Taxpayer dollars only had to pay for half the value of the sign. Businesses realize state parks are economic engines.

“REI Outdoors stores also came to us and underwrote the printing of our state park guide in Spanish for the first time ever,” said Frazier. “We’ve been able to put those in places where there’s a real demand for that in certain parts of the state. REI is a company that has a vested interest in what happens at state parks because they know that the more people who visit parks and are enjoying the outdoors, ultimately it’s probably better for their bottom line as well.”

These relationships are good for businesses and state parks. It can also be seen as good for park visitors and Texas residents.

“The bottom line for us is not only are we able to do ventures that we’ve never done before, we’re doing it at no taxpayer’s expense essentially,” said Frazier.