It’s not clear from the story in the Sat. Nfld News, New Northfield hotel feasible, market study indicates, how the $9,600 decision was made to hire an Atlanta-based consulting company, Highland Group Hotel Investment Advisors, to conduct the study.
A search of the phrase “Highland Group” on the City’s website only comes up with the disbursements to the company in October and in December. I can’t find anything that indicates there’s been Council discussion of this. I checked with Jim Gleason, new president of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau, who indicated that he wasn’t aware of the market study being done.
I’m not ready to argue that conducting a study is a bad idea. I’m questioning the process. It seems like the Council should be involved in a public discussion about an expenditure like this, especially one that’s likely to ruffle the feathers of local business owners. According to the Nfld News, City Administrator Joel Walinski said study was done to facilitate the conversation among local developers and hotel owners. Seems backwards to me.