Washington ends agreement with economic development consultants
Updated 3:19 pm, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
WASHINGTON — The town has decided to stop working with a consulting firm hired in August to identify economic development opportunities.
First Selectman Mark Lyon said the town’s immediate needs differ from the long-term strategy the firm, Gorman & York, was developing.
“It was a mutual agreement that the relationship wasn’t working,” Lyon said. “Gorman & York was focused on long-term work that has to take place while the committee wanted to address more short-term work and objectives.”
Gorman & York, which specializes in working with municipalities, was hired to market the town, provide direction and counsel in securing funding for local infrastructure projects and support acquiring private funding for a “bank” that could provide lease subsidies for qualified start-ups and artisans.
The firm was also to serve as a coordinator for new business/cultural/community events and compile and update an inventory of available commercial properties in the town’s business districts, recruiting compatible business ventures.
The firm, which signed a two-year agreement with Washington, was paid $20,000 for its five months of work, leaving $30,000 in the economic development budget.
Lyon said the town’s Economic Development Committee will eventually examine “the bigger picture,” such as the availability of business space and developing more affordable housing. Gorman & York was already focused on those issues, Lyon said.
“We already know what our housing struggles are,” he said. “We don’t have to revisit that.”
The Economic Development Committee was expected to request One-Eleven Group, which had been subcontracted by Gorman & York, to continue their work marketing the town.
“The committee proposes to create a community-wide calendar that will contain all of the events happening in the town,” Lyon said. “It would be linked to the town’s website. It wants to advertise the town to create an awareness of the opportunities in Washington through social media and other venues.”
Michael Gorman, principal in Gorman & York, said his company had done as much for Washington as it could considering the town’s limited budget.
“Our conclusion was that with a limited budget, they should focus on marketing and promotion,” Gorman said. “We had been working closely with One Eleven Group from Cornwall and had addressed those areas. What the folks in Washington want to do at this point is reinforce people coming back to Washington, to the stores, to the restaurants.”