ST. LOUIS – The city’s economic development arm is hiring a marketing firm to revamp its branding and website, the latest indication of changes at the powerful agency under new leadership.
The St. Louis Development Corp. board on Thursday approved hiring Kansas City-area marketing agency Candid to oversee the rebranding of the agency’s longtime logo – a golden Gateway Arch with the tagline “Keeping St. Louis in Business ”- and redesigning its website, currently embedded within the city’s web page.
“SLDC has been buried within the city website,” said SLDC Director Neal Richardson, who took the top job there just over a year ago. “It’s very difficult to find that information.”
The contract with Candid, led by President Becky Freetly, is worth up to $ 140,000. The firm could also be retained to provide continuing marketing and public relations services through next year for an additional fee, according to SLDC documents.
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SLDC’s in-house public relations employees, Ivie Clay and John Parker, were let go last year.
Candid has worked for the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, which serves a similar function as SLDC in the state’s other large city. Candidate was chosen from a short list of marketing firms, approved by SLDC’s board earlier this year, following interviews with SLDC leadership. They stood out because of their experience working with economic development agencies, Richardson said.
“They understand incentives,” he said. “They understand the development world.”
The firm is the latest consultant to be hired by the agency as it charts a new direction on development incentives and stands up programs to administer an influx of federal pandemic aid set to be spent on affordable housing and business grants.
SLDC last year approved a $ 150,000 contract for an “economic justice action plan” meant to guide the agency as it tries to rebuild long-suffering neighborhoods in North St. Louis. The plan was originally set to be delivered at the beginning of the year under a contract that was set to expire in January with the Council of Development Finance Agencies that included PGAV and consultant Erica Henderson, but a draft has not been publicly released. Richardson said this week it could be ready in a few months.
The agency in 2020 had spent some $ 800,000 on a year-long planning process for its “Equitable Economic Development Framework,” a document that Mayor Tishaura O. Jones said during her campaign, did not “tell us anything new.”
‘SLDC has been buried within the city website. It’s very difficult to find that information. ‘
SLDC Director Neal Richardson