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Friday, January 21, 2011 - 12:57pm

Economic Development Agency Hires Marketer

The state Department of Economic Development will spend more than $13 million over the next five years on a contract aimed at promoting tourism, film and global commerce.

The contract with an Ohio-based marketing firm covers ad campaigns, media buys and sponsorships for the agency's three divisions.

In Savannah, where officials have voiced concerns over the state's tourism funding, Joe Marinelli of VisitSavannah says, any help from the state is welcome.

"We had the challenge, like most cities in 2009 that our funding had slipped somewhat primarily because less people were traveling," Marinelli says. "We began to see a little bit of bounceback in 2010."

Marinelli says, last year could end up being one of the best ever for Savannah tourism.

A spokesman for the Department of Economic Development says, the contract doesn't change the agency's total funding.

That will be decided by state lawmakers.

The marketing firm, Engauge, won the five-year contract through a state-mandated competitive bidding process.

"We are glad to have Engauge on board to extend our reach to partners and prospects around the world," said Greg Torre, marketing and communications director for GDEcD. "We look forward to drawing on the deep experience and resources they bring to the table as we build out the Georgia brand in the global marketplace."

The marketer's client list includes Nationwide Insurance, The Home Depot, Chick-fil-A and Food Lion.