The Williamsport City Council seems eager to see a city-wide market analysis to quantify the economic impact of tourism.
An inventory of tourism assets such as those for sporting events, arts and theatre, music festivals and special events, outdoor recreation, breweries, distilleries and retail space usage and business related to tourist attraction may fall within the scope of the analysis conducted by Delta Development Group, an economic development consultancy firm in the city.
In a quarterly report to council, Teresa Sparacino of the Delta Development Group said Mayor Derek Slaughter’s city administration and the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce are helping to quantify the economic impact of tourism on the city.
The administration granted the Sun-Gazette a copy of the report when requested after Thursday’s presentation.
Efforts are underway to develop a strategy that could include an estimate of the annual economic impact of tourism as a means of assisting with business recruitment and economic development funding proposals.
The company met with Jason Fink, president and CEO of the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce to identify data collection sources to inform such a study, Sparacino said.
The chamber does not have access to visitor data beyond hotel tax revenue reports, but is willing to facilitate a business survey and help connect with key companies for the study, said she declared.
Next steps could be to develop a survey of downtown businesses to collect information and looking at information such as types of businesses, employment figures and assessing the percentage of revenue attributed to tourism and tourists.
Analytical work could also involve compiling a list of tourism-related businesses in the city for survey distribution and listing what draws people to Williamsport, including open spaces, recreation , biking and walking trails and proximity to the Pennsylvania Wilds and miles of forests, streams and rivers.
The result would ultimately be a comprehensive report quantifying the impacts of tourism and a brochure created for business recruitment, she said.
Board Chairman Adam Yoder suggested that Delta officials also review the work done previously and currently by the Economic Revitalization Committee. He also commended the administration for pursuing such economic development strategy and analysis.
Intersections, parks and
In the quarterly report, a list of projects including improvements to intersections, parks and neighborhoods was provided to the council.
The company was successful in securing a $900,000 city grant through the Commonwealth Funding Authority for multi-modal purposes and to improve downtown safety. These are specifically for East Fourth Street and Campbell Street with project costs of $1.48 million.
The city has a Green-Light-Go grant application for $326,796 with a required match of $81,669 for traffic lights at East Fourth Street and Mulberry Street. The grant award is pending, she said.
The city submitted a Greenway Trails and Recreation Program grant of $245,625 with required matching of $43,346 for Young’s Woods Park improvements that include a basketball court and sidewalks.
The city has a grant of $648,096 in the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s local sharing account for Shaw Place park improvements submitted in March and expected to be awarded in July. Improvements include expanding a walking path, constructing a pump track, resurfacing the tennis courts and resurfacing the main parking lot. The design office and the city meet on May 26 to discuss this project and the grant.
The city has a $70,000 C2P2 grant with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on the city’s comprehensive recreation, open space, and green infrastructure plan. This requires a $70,000 match and is pending with winners notified in October or November.
The company discussed a grant from the Greenway Trails and Recreation program for the Susquehanna Riverwalk and a maximum grant of $250,000 with a 15% match. This is under discussion only and the Neighborhood Assistance Program grant for housing improvement and burn remediation which requires contributions of $50,000 per company from private sector contributors for the match. This program can work in tandem with planned improvements in the Park Avenue Neighborhood Improvement Project area, Sparacino said.
Additionally, the company is considering all sources of funding through the Commonwealth Finance Authority for Traffic Light Modifications, a grant with a June 31 submission deadline.
Delta is also reviewing state redevelopment assistance program grant compliance for Muncy Bank Park at historic Bowman Field.
Specifically, Delta worked with Pat Russell of Anthony H. Visco Jr. Architects to obtain all payroll certifications for clubhouse improvements to ensure compliance.
It also reviewed documentation by working with Stantec, a third-party reviewer appointed by the Office of the Budget, for all documentation required for grant administration/compliance.