City hires 2 marketing strategists

Two local economic development consultant companies were hired to improve the chances of the city obtaining state, federal and local funding for projects.

Penn Strategies, in conjunction with RETTEW Associates Inc., have contracts with the city for costs of no more than $100,000 for the first year with an option for a second-year renewal.

They have begun an economic development and funding strategy for the city’s capital improvement plan and will provide City Council and Mayor Gabriel J. Campana with quarterly updates.

Campana said he negotiated the contracts and views each as having an opportunity to garner grant dollars.

Among the reasons the companies were hired are to establish a strategy to leverage funding from federal, state and local sources and to define an approach that prioritizes needs, said William E. Nichols Jr., director of finance.

Council President Bill Hall said he is hopeful the companies can accomplish the task to help with the city’s economic development and prioritize projects identified as acceptable to council and find funding for them.

Among the projects the team plans to tackle, Nichols said, are Trade and Transit II, Destination 2014 (reuse of the YMCA building and arena), the Mulberry Street housing development, a city pool, improvements to Bowman Field, a levee maintenance program, storm sewer upgrades, the Brodart neighborhood improvement and other capital projects as needed.

The team will work with the administration to review any outstanding loans held by the city to ensure it is receiving competitive interest rates and review its investment portfolio, Nichols said.

In addition to using its skills, the team is going to identify and pursue public-private development partnership opportunities, Nichols said. He added that Delta Development Group continues to be used for projects involving securing federal dollars for transportation-related projects.

Jason M. Fitzgerald, senior vice president of Penn Strategies; John Haynes, vice president of Penn Strategies; and Laura L. Templeton, principal/regional manager for RETTEW Associates Inc., represent the team leaders.

Campana said he wants to see community input and opinions and will include lead partners in the discussion such as the Lycoming County commissioners, Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority, Williamsport Business Association, Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce and the arts community.

“The plan is to begin to assess and develop the city’s marketing strategy and tools for successfully promoting the city as an attractive place to live, work and play,” Nichols said.