The Carbondale City Council has committed to spend about $100,000 on a branding strategy for the city.
The council authorized Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams to execute a contract with North Star Destination Strategies, Inc, from Nashville, for community branding in the amount of $98,000, at its meeting Tuesday.
In return for the money, the city will receive 627 hours of work to complete a branding effort that will be used in the future by all public stakeholders to better promote the area, Williams said.
“The purpose of the project is to develop a brand that accurately reflects the reasons people and businesses come to live and work in Carbondale, to reflect the historic civic pride of the community, to embrace the culture of the city, and to enhance the reputation that Carbondale has,” he said.
According to the city, the branding process will include quantitative and qualitative research that will be gathered by survey instruments, focus groups, community meetings, and interviews with local and regional residents.
The agreement between the city and North Star says the city will pay North Star $49,000 at the beginning of the project. The next 25 percent – $24,500 – will be paid after 14 weeks and the remaining 25 percent will be paid in three monthly installments of $8,166.68 upon the completion of the project.
Any additional hours over the 627 hours will be billed to the city at $150 per hour, but the agreement says North Side will receive written approval before starting the work.
“They will do exactly what we are looking for,” Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said. “They will survey the community and find out what we think about Carbondale and find out what people outside of Carbondale think of it.”
Jeff Dohery, former city manager and candidate for Carbondale City Council in April, said he likes the initiative, but is concerned about the fact the city will pay for half of the contract before the company does any work. Additionally, he said he had concerns about the termination policy that says any party could terminate the contract with a 15-day notice.
“If the contract is terminated by either side before all the work is done, the city does not recoup the payments,” he said.
Carbondale City Attorney Jamie Snyder said he has reviewed the contract and is comfortable with it.
“This is a professional organization,” he said. “They wouldn’t be in business if they were taking $15,000 from companies and then turning around and canceling a contract.”
Williams said city staff called several cities and nothing gave them cause for concern.
“In the past 16 years, North Star has completed over 200 unique branding projects with several illustrative examples included in their proposal,” he said.