The Benicia Economic Development Board met Wednesday night and gave Wolfe Communications a glowing endorsement for the work the firm has performed since November 2009, when it was awarded a $280,000 contract to implement the city's tourism marketing plan.
[Disclosure: Benicia Patch Editor JB Davis was a member of the Economic Development Board when Wolfe Communications was hired and was one of two members who voted against hiring the firm.]
Mario Giuliani, acting economic development director, said he has heard mostly good things about the consultant's work on the tourism program. He said he stops in to visit First Street businesses frequently. The bulk of the criticism he hears is in the form of wanting the Wolfe Communications to make small adjustments in how it implements the program. "Very few people have said we ought to do away with it (the tourism plan)," said Giuliani.
Former chairman of the committee Duane Olivera said, "Without a doubt, I want the city to enter into a new contract with Jack Wolfe."
The proposal submitted by Wolfe Communications includes maintaining content on the tourism website, producing articles for print media, presentations and advertising purchases.
The budget adopted at Tuesday's City Council meeting includes $50,000 to continue the tourism program. The Wolfe Communications proposal for managing the program for 12 months is $49,820.
The contract is above the threshold that normally triggers a competitive bid process but in this case the city is "sole-sourcing" the contract because Wolfe has been doing the work called for in the contract for the past 20 months.
"It's up to staff to make the argument that sole source is better than a bid process," said Giuliani.
The tourism program is aimed at people living in a 40-mile radius from Benicia and is meant to encourage them to come for shopping, dining and weekend retreats. As the program becomes more successful, it is hoped that sales tax generated from visitors will sustain the tourism program and provide more money to the city's general fund.