Mayor Gary Resnick said he hopes the city’s new economic development consultant will attract the regional or corporate headquarters of an LGBT-friendly corporation.

At its Feb. 27 meeting, commissioners approved an agreement with R. Miller & Associates for $49,500. As part of its agreement with the city, R. Miller’s responsibilities include implementing short term and long term goals, promotion of the city, updating marketing programs, organizing workshops and seminars, and identifying ways to retain current businesses.

Resnick called it a “pretty high fee” but also expected a lot.

“Let’s face it: the businesses that are going to be interested in coming into Wilton Manors are going to be those that are LGBT-friendly and have products and services targeted to the LGBT community and their friends. So, doing something like this is good for economic development.”

He added that he was surprised it hadn’t already happened, but expressed confidence that the consultant has “the skills to target select businesses and to bring them home to the city.”

The city’s decision to hire a consultant comes at a time when high rents have forced some business owners to either close or relocate. In September, Pink Sub owner Dawn Halloway said she moved to Oakland Park from Wilton Drive because her rent was too high.

“It just got way too expensive for me, especially on the side of The Drive where I am. I had a great opportunity to take a space in the [Oakland Park] Culinary District [near Oakland Park Boulevard and Dixie Highway] where I don't have to worry about another sub shop or deli moving right next me. It's been an amazing almost 10 years but it's time to move forward with Pink Sub.”

City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson said there’s nothing the city can do about how much property owners charge their tenants, but she pointed to the plan to narrow Wilton Drive as something city officials believe will help business owners.