Michigan, Rick Snyder — July 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Pure Michigan: Your trip begins in … Iowa?


Pure Iowa

Graphic by Anne C. Savage

After it was revealed last week that the state of Michigan had awarded a $1.5 million contract to produce and distribute a Michigan tourism magazine to an Iowa-based company, Crain’s Detroit Business filed a Freedom of Information Act request and learned that at least two Michigan-based companies had come in with lower bids.

The bid awarded to produce the Pure Michigan Travel Guide went to an Iowa publishing firm at a cost higher than the two bids that were submitted from companies in Michigan, but a major selling point for the Iowa company was the ability to bundle the guide in Midwest and national magazines.

According to documents obtained by Crain’s through the Freedom of Information Act, Royal Oak-based Hour Media LLC and Ferndale-based Pitch Black Media LLC both submitted bids that were less expensive than the bid from Meredith Corp., publisher of Midwest Living.

A Michigan Economic Development Corp. spokeswoman said the value of the Meredith bid centers around the ability of Meredith to get the guide to more out-of-state target consumers.

The Des Moines-based company has produced the guide for the state of Michigan for the past 15 years. As part of its winning bid, it packaged in more than $800,000 of “added value components,” including 1 million extra copies attached to Better Homes and Gardens, several free ads, and three complimentary mentions of Michigan in Midwest Living.

So, they got what they thought was a better deal and were willing to deal with the hypocrisy that the move represents. Hour Media’s bid contained the following perfectly-stated statement:

PR value of hiring a 100% Pure Michigan publisher: Priceless.

The bid was nearly a third of a million dollars more than Hour Media’s, too:

The net cost to the state was more expensive in Midwest Living’s bid, than with Hour Media’s. When subtracting ad sales revenue, Hour Media estimated the net cost to the state for its bid would be $665,500, while Midwest Living’s total cost to the state was estimated to be $999,867.

The Mark Schauer campaign is all over this with a petition calling on Governor Snyder to hire a Michigan firm. This morning, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate tweeted this:

Seems to me they could have taken just a portion of the $334,367 they would have saved going with Hour Media and bought themselves some additional distribution and still come out ahead. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Governor Snyder and/or some of the folks at the MEDC have some business pals at the Meredith Corp. that was awarded the bid.

At any rate, it’s been a national news item, giving the good governor a really bad week in the press. The fact that Michigan’s unemployment rate inched upward last quarter probably didn’t help much either. Despite all the Republican crowing about how destroying our unions was going to bring prosperity to our state, things don’t really seem to be getting all that much better.

Sayonara, Governor Snyder. Your days are surely numbered.

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]