Consultants’ price a good investment for city so far

The City of Williamsport’s economic development plan for the next two years will include two consulting firms as part of the strategy.

At a cost of $300,000.

City Council renewed contracts and the two consulting firms recently at a cost of $150,000 a year.

For that price, the firms seek grants and work on business opportunities with a variety of investors and stakeholders in the city on the City of Williamsport’s behalf.

It’s easy to question this expenditure. After all, $300,000 is a lot of money.

But Councilman Jonathan Williamson, chairman of the city finance committee, said Penn Strategies and Rettew Associates were a big help in the city’s success in obtaining a $3 million state Redevelopment Capital Assistance grant for downtown economic projects.

Councilman Randall J. Allison said the companies have worked well with key stakeholders in the area and are interested in recruitment of diversified industries, gas industry-related and otherwise.

Councilman N. Clifford “Skip” Smith said the consultants are easily accessible, much more so than a previous consultant that the city “fired.”

If all this is true – and we have no reason to think otherwise – the $300,000 is probably money well invested by the city. That’s particularly true if the consultants are instrumental in getting the city’s multiple plans for the coming years to fruition.

Given the economic development grant competition these days, a city the size of Williamsport needs the networking ability and grant application savvy of consultants on its side.