Billboard uses Dr. Walker to promote business development
Fired Edison State College president used in ad campaign to attract businesses to Lee County.Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS - Lee County is still using fired Edison State College president Ken Walker's image to promote business development a month after he was fired from the college over integrity violations.
"It's an embarrassment to Fort Myers," said Edison student James Condon. "Tourists shouldn't be seeing this."
Condon spotted the billboard, near exit 138 on I-75 North, driving home from class.
"I was just shocked to see his face on a billboard," said Condon, "representing anybody."
With the slogan "together we mean business," Walker is being used to promote the Fort Myers Regional Partnership. It's the county's economic development office in charge of attracting news businesses to the area.
The "we mean business" campaign started two years ago. Walker was one of several community leaders, including former Lee County superintendent James Browder, used for a series of rotating ads.
"Due to his integrity violations he should not be representing Fort Myers in any way shape or form," said Condon. "They should take that billboard down as soon as possible."
The Fort Myers Regional Partnership says it's rolling out a new campaign next month that will highlight businesses investing in the county instead of community leaders.
A spokesperson says the Walker ad is old and admits keeping it in rotation was a "mistake."
"I think that the billboard going up was a mistake on our part," said spokesperson Jennifer Berg, who says it should have been taken down when Walker was fired.
"It was an oversight between our office and the advertisers," she said.
After bringing Condon's concerns to their attention, Berg says the billboard will come down "in a week."
But for Condon, that's not soon enough.
"It should be taken down," he said. "Immediately."
The Fort Myers Regional Partnership's ad campaign rolls out next month. Instead of highlight community leaders it will highlight businesses that are investing in the county like Chico's and Shaw Development.
The billboards are paid for by donations not tax dollars.