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For $50,000, Flagler County Hires Marketing Firm to Buff Up Economic Development

| August 20, 2012

Under construction.

The Flagler County Commission this evening approved a $50,000 contract with Orlando-based Solodev, a marketing and web-design firm that pledges to launch the county’s revamped economic development website by January 2013.

The county created a $450,000-a-year economic development department last year and hired its executive director–Helga van Eckert, formerly of Perth Amboy, N.J.–in January, with a nine-member advisory council, to bring jobs to the county.

“This is a really important component for economic development,” Commissioner Milissa Holland said of the branding and website effort. “It should be a top priority.”

The contract calls for Solodev to develop a logo for the site–what would double up as the economic development department’s, and by extension Flagler County’s, brand–for $6,000. The website itself will cost $20,000. Planning and design will take up close to $10,000, and web hosting and maintenance $12,000 That last figure would be recurring annually, as would a $2,500-a-year licensing fee to Solodev.

Commissioners had no objections to the plan, though they raised a few questions. The company originally submitted a $90,000 proposal to do the work. Van Eckert negotiated it down to $50,000 because a lot of the projected work was either already done by county staff, or will be done in-house. “The staff is going to do a little bit more work,” van Eckert said. The county has its own web developer and content management system. The economic development website, however, will be limited to 40 pages, with more flexibility through such things as blogs.

The contract with Solodev, County Administrator Craig Coffey said, “is a lot more thorough, a lot more time frames and deliverable and that sort of thing.”

The jobs council went to some lengths in its early goings to downplay expectations and shift the discussion from actual jobs it would create to something more akin to a climate for jobs that it would enable–a more amorphous definition of economic development that releases the department and its council from the sort of time frames and deliverables they impose on contractors.

It is unlikely, as the department and the council close out their first year in January, that they will have new jobs they could ascribe to the effort, other than the ones the department’s half-million dollar budget are creating or maintaining. One company, Designs for Health, opened an office in Palm Coast in June as its southeastern distribution center, with the possibility of adding several jobs by year’s end. But those efforts were under way before the creation of the jobs council.

A new website would be one way to show a tangible accomplishment with possibilities as a portal to development leads down the line, though Enterprise Flagler, the predecessor to the jobs council, went through a similar exercise, with its own website development several years ago, and little to show for it.

As examples of its track record, Solodev, van Eckert said, consulted for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and Team Volusia, the public-private economic development partnership that represents Volusia County and 16 cities. She described a team eager to be part of Flagler’s economic development designs.

“We’re hoping to move very aggressively on it,” Eckert said.

28 Responses for “For $50,000, Flagler County Hires Marketing Firm to Buff Up Economic Development”

  1. Kendall says:

    This is a disappointment. There are numerous talented web designers in Flagler County and I’m sure this could have been hosted locally as well.

    Why is our county’s Economic Development department sending money to Orlando?

  2. Magnolia says:

    The only economic development taking place is spending thousands on these firms who accomplish nothing.

    Ms. Holland and our commissioners have proven they are pretty good at ripping the taxpayers off.

  3. mellissa says:

    And this contract could not have went to a local marketing firm? Or hire our own local people who specialize in marketing?

    • JuneBug says:

      Wow, I had a logo created for my business, created a website, have hosting all for under $1,000. Sure, it may not be at the same level as what the county folks are planning but the expenses listed here to accomplish basically the same things are amazing. Yeah right – you saved the County $40,000 because this work usually costs $90,000. These folks are blowing through cash with no guarantee of any return on investment. Again, you hire permanent government staff so that they can hire someone else to do the real work. Even if they land a few hundred jobs, the cost-benefit may still not be there. This is what you call throwing money at a problem.

      • Geezer says:

        If the county wants to save money – I have a plan.
        Read carefully…

        I would like $2,000,000 delivered to my home via armored truck – but today only, I’ll accept $1,000,000.
        This is a limited-time offer, and a chance for the county to save $1,000,000.

        The benefits I reap will trickle down to all of you.

  4. Joe says:

    This whole Economic Developement thing really gets my goat. I thought this new lady was going to have some sort of an impact here but so fat all I have seen is a nice posh lunch at Princess Place, another luncheon to decide on a slogan, and now she hires a firm to do the job she was hired to do, what a waste this is turning out to be! Where are the Results??? I don’t mind that our hard earned taxes are being used to hire someone for economic development, but I want to see some bang for my buck, where are the results and what has this women been doing the past year, my count is ZERO!!!

  5. gator fan 4ever says:

    this is the most inept commission i have seen in my life. let’s support orlando’s economy.

    • ANONYMOUSAY says:

      You would think they would save money by utilizing the Internet. The Commission can use whatever method they want to boost economics here but as long as the “impact fees and made up fees” along with committee red tape are used to muscle goodies out of prospective corporations it’s all fluff, a bait and switch. People want to open businesses not find themselves pretty much fulfilling some control fantasy of a few Public Officials. I guess this is just another way to validate themselves and give the appearance of being busy when in fact they along with the City can be the problem.

  6. Gia says:

    Another waste of taxpayers money. These yoyo’s just dont get the picture.

  7. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    Absolutely stunning. There is no justification for spending this kind of money on a website and logo as if that by itself is going to attract jobs? As usual economic developers focus on the wrong things. Pretty website, pretty logo, yet no real results. All the more reason why this should be outsourced on a commission basis only, instead of spending $400k + a year for no results.

  8. flip it says:

    So…we payed “orlando” to help grow FLAGLER? hmmmm.

  9. jespo says:

    Milissa Holland doesn’t have a clue, does she? And so, the little one horse town that once saw the lights of success and progression has had yet another suffocating blanket of ignorance and failed measure tossed on its head again. 50K to come up with….an idea. Great decision. Wonderful. Excellent. Moron.

  10. John Boy says:

    van Eckert and Coffey must have both completed the Mitt Romey School of “Public Bullshitting”

  11. JL says:

    Why did we hire the so-called expert from Perth Amboy? Evidently, we should have hired Orlando’s marketing person. They sure got us, didn’t they? So now we’re spending our money in other cities in Florida. Well, I guess we should be glad the money at least stayed in the state. I agree with the others. This should have ONLY went to a local marketing person. So far, this new person has shown us she can spend money we don’t have. And we still have nothing to show for it.

  12. anon says:

    $12,000 a year to host and maintain a web site.

    As Phil Rizzuto used to say HOLY COW !

    Whoever signed off on that deal is wearing their ass around their head like a hat.

    Total up all the money that has been dumped on economic development over the past several years and then calculate the return on investment. The return is minimal.

    Any taxpayer in their right mind should be highly pissed off. On the other hand the apathetic clones in this county won’t even get off their collective asses to vote.

    • Bill McGuire says:

      Anon: It was Harry Carey who said “Holy Cow!” I heard it for years when he broadcast the games of my beloved St. Louis Cardinals and he kept it when he went to Chicago. Sorry to hijack the thread.

  13. Waste of money says:

    Maybe we are not paying the $110,000 dollar lady enough. Her lack of experience is really showing.

  14. The honest one says says:

    Hey folks, economic development is Agenda 21. Look up Agenda 21. It is the United Nations taking away our sovereignty ( Constitutional Rights). Melissa Holland, Barbara Revels and Greg Coffey are big supporters of economic development in this county. They have no clue what they are doing to the tax payers in this county. This is throughout the country. If you all value what you own you had better look into what Agenda 21 is. Google it.

  15. DWFerg says:

    This county continues to struggle to find the formula to incentivize businesses to locate here. The truth of the matter appears to be that neighboring counties like St John’s and Volusia have edged out Flagler in attracting / retaining new/ existing business. Fortunately, retail jobs are on the rise with commercial development(restaurants etc.) along 100, however, without people having jobs, the pump/ engine of economic vitality, these businesses will struggle to sustain viability. As the demographics of retiree dependent spending evolve, and younger families locate here, all the Helga’s in the economic development world will struggle to effect meaningful RESULTS in the near term..Surely the recovery of the housing/ real estate market will add fuel to economic growth. Without an enhanced commercial presence, companies manufacturing stuff, technology firms creating value for other industrial firms(like local web designers/internet entrepreneurs -where are the Lean Local guys ?),the cycle of our past boom/ bust history will endure.

  16. Geezer says:

    Honestly now – how do you pay someone in Orlando for this service, when right here there’s plenty of qualified people to do this? This sort of thing isn’t done unless you’re politically suicidal (or are hopelessly out of touch). ORLANDO? Do people from Flagler smell bad?

    Maybe we should send our tax dollars to….ORLANDO! And take a look at the image atop this page – looks like a template-based webpage.
    A template!

    If Palm Coast wants economic development – why do they make it so hard for businesses to open here?
    For instance: why the stupid signage restrictions? Has anyone noticed how difficult it is to find businesses here? If you “hide” businesses, they won’t thrive, and neither will new businesses be enticed to come here.
    I wouldn’t want to operate a business here.

    What gives?

  17. tulip says:

    To those who are questioning why an Orlando Company was chosen over a Flagler one.

    Has anyone called or gone to a meeting to ask that very question of Ms. Eckert or the Commission?
    It’s possible there is a very good reason. I would think you people would want to know the reason before complaining and being critical about something you probably know very little about.

    It doesn’t hurt to ask and you might even learn something.

    • Reality Check says:

      Should be Flagler first no matter what, if our own county and city government cannot find a way to support a local business, why would any other businesses. Our local officials should set the standard for this; there can be no reasonable answer as to why we went to Orlando other than our council’s arrogance or ignorance. I go to more than 80% of the government meetings, the only thing I walk away with is that no one can make a decision, they are all afraid of political suicide. We have become a nation of “what if I hurt some ones feelings” do you think the patriots who started this once great country worried about that? No, because it was the right thing to do. The council needs to work on real county issues and make the hard decisions, Government officials (not all but the majority) are only worried about what is in it for them. This is why SS will never really get fixed, take away Senators and Congressman’s ridiculous lifetime salary pension and put them on SS and Medicare and watch just how fast it is fixed and funded. I hate to rant but this entire government system we now have is based on the what’s in it for me theory.

  18. Where there's smoke says:

    You know this department is spending a half a million dollars a year! Majority of the funds goes to salaries. We need more indepth coverage of this organization. When enterprise Flagler was around Flaglerlive was great revealing how bad of an organization it was. Enterprise Flagler was getting $95,000 from the county. Now the economic organization under a new name is getting $500,000. We need to be filling some public record request. where is the money being spent, why is there no printed monthly activity report, what happen last month with the board was jumping on Paul Manning? We need answers, this is an public agency for god sake.

  19. Magicone says:

    You can not buff up anything that never shined !!!

  20. JP says:

    I’m going to tell you something…as a single professional man, there is no place in this county to spend my money…..that town center is a gold mine for shops, bars and nite clubs…..every weekend I go into lake mary or orlando to enjoy a good meal and drinks in an area full of hip contemporary establishments. This town is full of new yorker and new englandners that are not into biker and beach side dives. we need upscale shops, restaurants,and clubs for the people that have money to spend…build them and they will come…..

  21. Magnolia says:

    Commissioners, you have your choice…..either a PR firm or someone on the county payroll. Enough money has been wasted in this county on funds spent by politicians who are not doing the jobs we elected them to do. Is it going to take a recall to get you off your collective butts and stop spending money on consultants who produce nothing.

    We elected YOU to do this job, not consultants. There is an election coming up, people. Vote them out and fire the consultants.

  22. Ben Blakely says:

    I wonder whose PC offical brother in law owns that marketing firm?

    Can you say, SCAM??

  23. confidential says:

    Just what kills our county economy all these “outsourcings”.

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