BRADENTON – Florida-based marketing firms hoping to win a six-figure contract through Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, were surprised to learn that the work was awarded to a firm in Tennessee. Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies will be paid $205,000 to “uncover Florida’s business brand” and “express the identity we want the world to see as it pertains to business.”
A Jacksonville company will get a smaller contract to do some of the work, while seven other Florida-based companies were passed over for the job, which was not advertised on Florida’s Vendor Bid System – an online listing of state contract opportunities that also sends email notices to companies who sign up for electronic notification.
The decision caught the ire of watchdog groups who pointed out that the process was not in line with the state's official procurement process, which is designed in part to see that Florida companies are made aware of such opportunities and then fully considered. Other critics pointed out that the money spent would have been more likely to benefit local economies and create or protect jobs for Floridians if a state-based firm had been used.
Nancy Walker, president of Walker Brands in Tampa, told the Tampa Business Journal that her firm had not been aware of the opportunity to submit a proposal. Another Tampa firm, ChappellRoberts, was passed over in the process. Enterprise Florida is funded by a combination of state funding and private donations. It is overseen by the governor and a 62-member board.