Agencies hit as US Mint slashes budget

WASHINGTON: It would now seem that even those who manufacture the

money don't have enough to go around.



The US Mint has indefinitely suspended all communications contracts with

the private sector to accommodate shrinking budget projections.

Consequently, both Fleishman-Hillard's and Hill & Knowlton's DC offices

have seen seven-figure campaigns evaporate.



The Mint's budget crunch can be attributed to the economic recession,

said spokesman Matt Kilbourne. "We're showing a pretty significant

reduction in coin demand for the coming year," he explained. "Last year,

we made about 27 billion coins." This year, that number will shrink to

about 16 billion. Because the Mint makes its money from selling coins to

the Federal Reserve, it will have considerably less to spend in

2002.



H&K, which has handled PR for the Mint's state-themed quarter campaign

since the spring of 2000, was forced to lay off eight people this month

after learning in October that its $10 million, 10-year contract

was no longer operable.



Fleishman has run the Mint's gold Sacagawea dollar campaign since 1999,

a piece of business worth more than $1 million to the firm

annually. No employees have been let go as a result, but several have

had to be repositioned.



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