MEDC awards $400,000 contract to rebuild Michigan's website to Florida-based company


LANSING — The state’s Pure Michigan tourism website is getting an overhaul — with help from a Florida-based marketing company.

Miles Media Group LLP, based in Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday won a nearly $400,000 contract to rebuild from the Michigan Strategic Fund, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The $389,690, one-year contract includes four annual renewal options.

Miles will hire Brighton-based digital marketing agency TwoSix Digital as a subcontractor, according to the MEDC.

An MEDC spokeswoman said 22 companies bid on the website project, 12 of which are based in Michigan, but did not release their names. MEDC officials did not disclose whether Miles Media Group was the lowest bidder.

The state said its current website has issues with navigation, content and technology. The project is expected to take 28 weeks this year to design and build the new website, including a hosting platform and operating system.

When finished, it should be easier to navigate for both desktop and mobile users, incorporate content from social media sites, integrate the Pure Michigan brand and allow users to plan trips, the MEDC said.

The first year of the contract is entirely for the redesign, according to the MEDC. The state included one-year contract options worth $141,240 each for four additional years for site hosting and maintenance.

Miles has a second U.S. office in Superior, Colo. The company employs roughly 200 people and focuses solely on travel marketing and branding. Clients include tourism and travel agencies for at least 16 states; regional convention and visitors bureaus across the U.S.; national and international tourism organizations; destination resorts; and airports.

This isn’t the first time the MEDC has chosen an out-of-state vendor to produce Michigan tourism content. The MEDC’s selection of an out-of-state company to produce Michigan travel guides raised eyebrows in 2013.

Also Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund:

Approved a nearly $1.1 million brownfield tax capture for Watson Engineering Inc.’s planned redevelopment project in Taylor.

Watson Engineering, a sheet and tubular metal fabrication company, plans to redevelop more than five acres at 16716 Dudley Ave., 21600 Pennsylvania Road and a parcel on Katherine Street, all in Taylor, the MEDC said. The $8.3 million, two-phase project includes a new 60,000-square-foot building, improvements to a service drive on Pennsylvania, infrastructure upgrades and new machinery and equipment purchases.

Construction could begin in the spring and wrap up by December, the state said.

The project is expected to create roughly 75 full-time jobs by 2020 on top of an employment base of 125, according to the MEDC. The jobs pay an average hourly wage of $16.50.

The state awarded the company an extra five years to finish the project, which stalled after initial MSF approval in 2010 due to economic conditions.

Awarded another $500,000 grant to TechTown Detroit to support its Detroit Technology Exchange business incubator through March 2017.

In 2015, the MSF awarded a 12-month grant worth $500,000 to TechTown Detroit.

The money will be used to support such programs as DTX Launch Detroit, which serves as a student-focused accelerator; D-Venture, an entrepreneur-in-residence program; and other startup services. The MEDC said the grant has helped nine companies launch and 18 companies expand, and contributed to the creation of 28 jobs.

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Wed, 02/24/2016 - 8:47am
It makes absolutely no sense for MEDC to stimulate the Florida economy when there are companies capable of doing the work here in Michigan.
Lynne M Haley, DDS
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 1:15pm
I have had a long tenure as chair of our local workforce development board...sitting since the 90's and recently going off with a merger of counties. This has been a huge point of contention...Michigan could surely find a local company competent to do this what if it is not the lowest bidder? We have put up with so many bad decisions from our own "we're here to help you" folks in's time to demand some accountability to our own business community.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:00pm
You spend our taxes to have Florida develoo the Mich. Website, when u exist to increase bus. In mich! Unbelievable. Right up there with the deq!
Bernadine Bennett
Mon, 02/29/2016 - 4:56pm
I agree completely. Why are they giving this contract to a Florida company who is going to sub contract it back to M9ichigan and make a profit by just sub contracting out the work. I remember when Litton used to do that. They got contracts and 10 percent for just contracting the work out to other companies. People thought they were an appliance company but they actually made nothing. We should use Michigan companies first unless there are none who are good enough. That is outsourcing as far as I can see. Of course, business men, Snyder, do that all of the time. .
Jo Ann Beckfield
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 8:51am
It makes me so angry when our own government hands out our tax money to out of state companies. Obviously there are Michigan - based Enterprises that could accomplish this rebuild of the Pure Michigan (Ow! Flint) website.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 8:56am
Perhaps some of the Miles Media employees assigned to the Pure Michigan account will be some of those who were educated at Michigan public universities, with taxpayer help, that left our state for brighter prospects elsewhere.
Fri, 02/26/2016 - 9:39am
Why not join employee our college students under work study or our graphic design on line course participants to do this project. Residents of Michigan are paying $$$$$ taxes for our universities and colleges. How about tapping into prisoners, they are just sitting there, we could give them a skill for life and potential JOB when they are released. Or those with life sentences, something to do with their mind and time. WE ARE ALREADY SPENDING THE MONEY! Now MI will pay additional $$$ to FL? What are the priorities?
Dan Gibson
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:09am
I find it very revealing when the legislature is so concerned about taxpayers' money they enact a gag rule on schools and municipalities. Apparently, in conflict with that decision, taxpayers' money does not concern them as it's okay to send dollars to Florida. If I'm incorrect, maybe bids could be released for public review.
Fri, 02/26/2016 - 4:21pm
Let us know when they comply with your request, Dan.
Kathleen Norton...
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:11am
Thus is truly absurd and makes me extremely angry. What do you want to bet that the extensive number of qualified Michigan web development companies were not even solicited to bid? The state's abstruse and lengthy RFP process is so outdated. But more importantly, Michigan tax dollars should be spent with Michigan compaies, if possible. And there are certainly many qualified Michigan companies who could manage and execute this project very well.
Wow wheres the logic
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:13am
ditto and ditto
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:15am
This is TOTALLY maddening! Keep our tax dollars in state, stimulating Michigan-based businesses. It just makes no sense. And yes, Ow! -- Flint! Between Flint, and the DPS mismanagement under the emergency managers, and now the Kalamazoo shootings, I'm afraid our "Pure" Michigan brand has been drastically damaged.
Janet Van
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:27am
This is why we can't have nice things. Like roads that aren't falling apart.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:49am
This state government is in a world of their own, with no respect for the citizens of Michigan. They are self serving and really don't care about our state and I just hope the electorate is paying attention. I would like to know a little more about that Florida company and what relationships they have here in the state. It is going to take years for us to dig out of this economic collapse created by this bottom line administration.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:53am
We need the work here, and we have good people here who care a lot more about Michigan. I'm so tired of politicians choosing out of state people who are probably related to someone. Like Governor Snyder giving his cousin a contract for office furniture that certainly could've taken a back seat to other more necessary projects.
Barry Visel
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:37am
It's only $400,000, folks. Why does no one seem to get upset about the more than $30 Billion we give away each year in the form of tax credits, tax deductions and tax incentives?
Nick Ciaramitaro
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:44am
Only $400,000?
Donna H
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 11:05am
I think the $400,000 is indicative of the mindset of these people. What is the phrase? It isn't the money; it's the principle.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:42am
I guess given our governor's past practices we should be glad it wasn't outsourced to China...
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:48am
A LARGE chunk of the Sarasota, FL area is home to Michigan snowbirds. Clogged roads, limited restaurant availability, unavailability of tee times. Need a little Michigan incentive down here to make the Michigan people here happy.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:52am
Remember the promise of transparency ,so much for that promise. If 12 companies bid on it then at least one of them should have been able to meet the terms of bid requirements. I am afraid of whatever credibility Mi. had I feel each and every day some of it slips away. Maybe if we elect Trump he can solve that problem to. Just kidding. R.L.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 11:10am
Even in a competitive world, it is very difficult to understand awarding a non-Michigan company this contract. Plus, it seems I am not alone in my extreme disappointment with MEDC. Short-sighted does not describe what appears to be inept decision-making.
Bayard Saunders
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 11:19am
With all the digital talent available in Michigan, this was a bad decision.
Jill Tackett
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 12:22pm
Our state has the power to restrict bids within our state. This is absurd, that the residents of this state have no voice in the fact our tax dollars are being sent out of state to fund our pure Michigan tourism.. stipulations may be added to any bid contract. This is perhaps one reason why our unemployment rate continues to be higher than the nations. Just like past gov. Graholm. when the pencils used for our state's lottery went from being produced here in Michigan to being out sourced to China. this is what is wrong with our country/state. to save 1 dollar is not worth the millions it costs to fund unemployment and welfare programs due to loss of jobs/work.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 1:01pm
So much for PURE MICHIGAN. This is just as bad as hiring private companies to run things, like prisons. What a slap it the face!
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 3:09pm
Shop locally?
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 4:22pm
It's unconscionable that the corporation laid off 65+ employees after a 1/4 budget cut, that they can afford to spend $400K on an out-of-state firm. MEDC stands for Michigan Economic Development Corporation, half of their mission is to bring business into the state, and now they're using taxpayer dollars out-of-state. The executives and Gov. Snyder should be ashamed of themselves.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 4:39pm
I am a little surprised that Gov.Snyder hasn't contacted Washington to have them send the prisoners to Mi. and house them at the Standish prison that is sitting empty. We could use the revenue to fix Detroit and the roads. What do you think Gov. R.L.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 4:44pm
MEDC spent lots of money and efforts luring company to Michigan and turn around awarding the contract outside of Michigan. What a joke! Steve Atwood, what are you doing?
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 5:06pm
There are absolutely several Web site development firms in the State of Michigan that should have gotten this bid! This just another debacle of our State Government at their worst. Why are we surprised?
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 5:23pm
And we are wondering why we are losing talents to other states????? What a joke!
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:48pm
90,000 creative people in this state good enough to serve the needs of the largest companies in the world - and MEDC awards the bid to a Florida company? We can't be taken seriously about our economic development efforts.
Thu, 02/25/2016 - 8:49am
Wow. This is just unbelievable. Par for the course.
Thu, 02/25/2016 - 10:20am
While I understand why people are upset about this, it's easy to criticize when you don't have all the facts. Don't you think the MEDC was aware how this would be perceived? Also, state procurement laws require that the state purchase goods & services from Michigan-based firms when all else is equal. So there must have been plenty of justification for going with the Florida-based company (who is using a Michigan subcontractor, as noted in the article). I, for one, hope they selected the best bid in terms of deliverables and value for taxpayer dollars. Michigan firms competing for contracts in other states undoubtedly hope for the same, too.,4541,7-225-48677-20051--,00....Michigan Based Firms and Clean Corporate Citizens Preference - If consistent with federal statutes, in all purchases made by the department, all other things being equal, preference shall be given to products manufactured or services offered by Michigan-based firms or by facilities with respect to which the operator is designated as a clean corporate citizen under part 14 of the natural resources and environmental protection act. (See MCL 18.1261)
Thu, 02/25/2016 - 11:12am
From the TwoSix Digital website, it looks like they only have three staff. Majority of the work is still going outside of Michigan. I would like to see MEDC's justification on how the Florida company proposal is better than the Michigan company. John: Since you are so familiar with the process, can we get the information from the Freedom of the Information? If so, how can we get the information?
Thu, 02/25/2016 - 10:59am
So sad to see Michigan $$$ go to Florida, like it doesn't already with all the snow birds, and then those that claim residency there to avoid our taxes also. On the other hand the Mi. based companies get the idea that they are the only ones and jack it up. What's fair and what's greed.Seeing Hillary standing in front of Johnson Control who took bail out money and is now sending jobs out of country saying she will end that is a very good idea.This game that's played is just that.I don't have an answer I just think it's sad.
Fri, 02/26/2016 - 2:33pm
Fine, If that's the way Michigan wants to play it, I will mail order my goods (tax free) from Florida and vacation there too. Lansing is overrun with morons!
Fri, 02/26/2016 - 3:12pm
Bureaucrats, whether federal, state or local, have no brains. This same government entity sponsors a program to get bigger companies to purchase products/services from smaller, Michigan based businesses. Maybe the contracting agent for this contract should attend the state program (and tax payer funded) on how to buy from Michigan vendors. Idiotic decision here. But sadly there will be no consequences. Never are.
Fri, 02/26/2016 - 4:44pm
More repukeagain outsourcing, good job Governor Rick Snyder 8|
Sun, 02/28/2016 - 2:54am
If my memory is correct I remember Former Gov. Engler awarding a 400 million dollar contract to the State of Texas for technology and when he left office went to work for that company. In fact it may have even been a no bid contract. Ironic 400 million, this latest one was 400 thousand. Please respond anyone to this one. R.L.
Reg smith
Sun, 02/28/2016 - 2:03pm
The first priority should be to spend the money effectively. This is a pretty specific area of expertise and it seems as though an experienced vendor was selected. A better choice than awarding the contract based on where a firm is located vs the results we need to get.
Sun, 02/28/2016 - 6:16pm
Remember that the MEDC is not a state agency, per se. Rather, it is a public corporate body, governed by a corporate board. As a result, I don't believe they are bound by the State of Michigan procurement procedures. Nevertheless, that shouldn't be a defense of the decision to hire a Florida agency.