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Council to consider Utah firm’s services

December 12, 2012
Morning Journal News

EAST LIVERPOOL - City Council will consider Monday a contract with a Utah consulting firm for economic development services.

Council's economic development committee reviewed the contract with Better City, L.L.C. presented by Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell at its meeting Tuesday, voting to send it on for full council's consideration.

The one-year contract calls for $25,000 to be made available to the firm up front which was raised in private donations through the efforts of local architect Scott Shepherd.

According to terms of the contract, it is anticipated an additional $50,000 will be available to the company, also through donations.

Auditor Kim Woomer said Tuesday the city has also pledged $10,000 from its general fund toward the firm's costs.

Those costs include paying $125 per hour to four consultants named in the contract and $180 per hour to owner Matthew Godfrey, who has been to the city and met with local officials and others involved in the project.

Estell said, "This isn't just about bringing business in but trying to provide a decent city for workers to live in."

The plan calls for the company to develop an economic development strategy identifying a "clear direction for the future" that will also concentrate on how to create high paying jobs.

Among the steps the company will take are a demographic profile of the community, examining existing jobs and wages, looking at employment growth and job loss and determining the causes, identifying grants and beginning implementation of strategy.

An urban renewal work plan will include performing market studies for retail, housing, entertainment and office development opportunities, identifying the best sites for re-development, looking for grants, calculating new tax revenue resulting from the project and creating a financial package and attracting bank support, among other steps.

The city's responsibilities as part of the contract will include providing existing documentation with relevance to the project as well as names and contact information for those who can help the project along.

This will prevent the city from "paying someone $125 an hour to compile phone numbers," Estell said.

Saying he has never favored studies, Mayor Jim Swoger said, "This is a great idea; in my mind, it's a master plan. This doesn't look like expensive talk; it looks like action."

Committee Chairman Ryan Stovall said he looked up other communities on the Internet that have used Better City and found high praise for its work.

Estell pointed out that the city has never taken any real steps toward starting an economic development plan, although it has taken the step of acquiring property.

"We need someone who specializes in this task," he emphasized.

Incoming state Rep. Nick Barborak was expected to meet Tuesday afternoon with Estell and Stovall to discuss the company's plans.



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