With high-profile development projects at the former Delphi site and lakefront still in the beginning stages, Oak Creek officials felt now is the time to bring a firm on board to market and brand the city.
The Oak Creek Common Council on Tuesday approved a $111,000 contract with Savage Solutions, a marketing consulting firm that has worked with many local and national clients.
Company President Cory Savage said he has met numerous times with Oak Creek staff to exchange ideas and talk about ways to promote the city.
"We have a very strong plan on telling the story of Oak Creek through the people of Oak Creek," he said. "We have some ideas on how to get Oak Creek onto the national scope of things, especially from the business development standpoint."
The contract, which goes through September 2013, is a flat fee paid for through hotel-motel room taxes, which are designed to be used for marketing-type activities.
Mayor Steve Scaffidi said it was a good use of those dollars, even if the contract is in the six figures.
"I understand that there's a concern about spending $111,000, but at some point we have to make a decision on what kind of city we want to be," he said. "We want to be a leader and that sometimes requires investments. We do it in roads, we do it in new interchanges, we do it in a lot of different ways. This is one of those ways."
City officials met Savage through Gateway to Milwaukee, an organization that promotes development near Mitchell International Airport. They were so impressed that the council authorized them in August to negotiate exclusively with Savage to provide marketing and branding services for Oak Creek.
Alderman Tom Michalski, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the city should have bid out the contract. While it didn't violate the law, Michalski said he would have felt better looking at more than one vendor.
"It sends a message to the community that for a $100,000+ item, we're not even going to go out and get a bid," Michalski said. "More people should have been given the opportunity to bid on this."
Others said Savage Solutions was vetted heavily and met 1-on-1 with city staff as much as any company has.
"We're not buying carpet. We're buying creativity," Scaffidi said.