Page 1


P iece




Best & Brightest Two PA communities hold strong in national GAMSA process p. 10

Also in this issue | P2









Meet Jim Wilson, Manager

The first BID in Central

Mary Lee tours the PA countryside for

Seeing the silver lining

of the Danville Business


some amazing (and amusing) gems




storm we may have just encountered. If we take the opportunity, we may be able, not just to return our business district or neighborhood to its previous position, but to move it upward to a new position. How many times have we thought that if we just had a chance to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. And while I am not suggesting that we should wish for devastation to befall a portion of our project area, if and when it does, we should (must?) seize the opportunity to re-think, re-envision, or re-invent the building, the block, the district. And that reenvisioning may just serve as the catalyst to move an entire business district, neighborhood or community to a new level of vitality.

Seeing the Silver Living by Bill Fontana


s we enter the fourth quarter of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, I’d like to take the opportunity to wrap up our year long theme of “Weathering The Storm...” The devastating impact of SuperStorm Sandy on the Breezy Point neighborhood of New York City and the incredible damage done to many Jersey Shore coastal towns were all too vivid reminders of the effects that such events can have on both the personal lives and economies of communities. More recently, a fire in downtown Clearfield destroyed several buildings with a resulting loss of business vibrancy in the block where the fire occurred. Incredibly, yet another fire in downtown Bellefonte gutted a historic hotel. Our ability, as revitalization professionals, to respond to these storms represents a knowledge base and skill set that we increasingly need to develop. But the other half of this year’s theme,


“…Building Resilient Communities in the Face of Adversity,” is where I really want to focus the attention of this article. The New Webster Dictionary of the English Language defines resilient as “capable of resuming its shape, position, etc., after being subjected to stress.” And while I think that returning to a previous state of existence is a good thing, it strikes me that being resilient provides us with the potential to be so much more. If you saw the Oscar nominated movie “Silver Linings Playbook” (which was shot largely in several Delaware County locations, by the way), you know the basic story of two people facing personal storms that find each other and soon recognize the silver linings that are emerging from their individual tragedies and subsequent depression. In the movie, Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, adopts the word “excelsior” as his personal motto. Excelsior, in the original Latin, means ever upward. And therein lies the tremendous opportunity that we can realize by searching for the silver lining that surrounds the negative impact of the

When the silver lining presents itself, we cannot be passive. One of the ten performance standards that must be met to achieve national accreditation, is the ability to demonstrate a historic preservation ethic. And while the “storm” may destroy a physical asset, or forever alter its historic use, we cannot let the storm diminish the character of what we are striving to protect. Our vision for rebuilding needs to be predicated on the assets that made our community what it is. And in order to do that we cannot sit back and let less enlightened decisions further destroy the character of what made our neighborhood or business district the place that it was, is and should be. We cannot allow the devastation to increase the already all too rampant homogeneity of modern development. All too often, the devastation of the storm results in surface parking lots, suburban style development, or buildings/land left vacant. Allowing any of these to happen, unchallenged, is not demonstrating a preservation ethic. So as we close the book on this theme for this fiscal year, I want to leave you with two final thoughts. Be prepared for the storm. If you are in the field of community revitalization for any length of time, it is a question of when the storm will hit, not if. And when the storm is over, be bold, be assertive, and demand more than simply returning to the previous state of being. Be the catalyst to see the silver lining and envision a better future. Excelsior!


Board Chair Message Looking Forward by Jane Conover


ike many non-profit organizations, the PA Downtown Center is evolving to adapt to a changing environment. In December, the PDC Board of Directors met for a day and a half to evaluate current challenges and opportunities. Bill Fontana summarizes the discussion in his article in this newsletter. My view is that PDC is poised to lead the way towards a new era in downtown vitality. As the trend of migration back to small towns and cities continues, PDC’s expertise, statewide perspective and partnerships serve as vital resources for communities to capitalize on this trend. Our new mission and vision capture more accurately PDC’s role in building capacity among diverse partners who are engaged in strengthening our core communities. A recent gift from PNC Bank will give Bill Fontana the much-needed flexibility to spend his time developing these partnerships, advocating for core communities and strengthening PDC’s role in capacity building. We are forever grateful to all of our members who support our work.


Bidding Farewell to Lou

What did Lou Colon, our south central Pennsylvania connection to DCED have to say as he prepared to move to Delaware? “I am so proud. It has been my honor and privilege to get to know and work with people that I am so very fond of. I have been welcomed into communities so warmly. It’s been very humbling.” Lou expressed his gratitude to all of the people that work every day to improve Pennsylvania. He said that his job working with Pennsylvania communities had been the ‘sweetest slice of the pie.’ Lou is leaving Pennsylvania to reunite with his wife in Delaware after a long stretch of commuting to and from. He is looking forward to ‘practicing what he preached’ as a DCED representative in his new position in Delaware. Lou will be taking the reigns as the Executive Director at the Downtown Dover Partnership, which encompasses their economic development office, the Main Street office and the parking authority of Dover. Delaware provides no state dollars toward funding so he will also be putting his fundraising skills to the test. His friends at PDC have no doubt that Lou will be extremely successful in his new endeavors and we wish him all the best! Thank you for your inspiring outlook and your enthusiastic approach toward improving Pennsylvania communities! We are better off for having known you, Lou. Lou asked that we share his contact information with PDC members. He would like everyone to feel free to stay in touch:




PDC Board Holds Strategic Planning Retreat


he Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) held a strategic planning retreat on December 6th and 7th, 2012. The purpose of the retreat was to craft a new five year plan that will take the organization to the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Among the issues addressed by the board and staff were: • Significant reduction on the number of designated Main Street and Elm Street programs. • Pending staff changes at DCED. • Insufficient discretionary funding for fundraising and development, legislative advocacy, strategic management and PDC organizational marketing activities. While these issues present PDC with significant challenges, the board


also acknowledged the current organizational strengths: • Highly supportive upper management at DCED with Secretary Walker and Deputy Secretary Holman. • Strong working relationships with DCED mid-level staff. • Ongoing support from the General Assembly, both in the House and increasingly in the Senate. • DCED technical services contract through December 31, 2016. • Growing partnerships with the PA Dept .of Conservation and Natural Resources and the US Department of Agriculture. • Experienced staff. The retreat also considered several issues that have been defined by the evolving structure of the National Main Street Center. These national issues include: • The need for more research related to the field of community revitalization • The need to reinvent “economic restructuring” • The impact of the ever increasing diversity of the population on community revitalization and historic preservation. After reviewing this current state of affairs, the board concentrated on

reviewing PDC’s mission and vision statements. Among the critical issues addressed by the retreat in these two documents were: • Who are PDC’s customers? and, • What will the world of community revitalization look like in five years. Relative to the first question relating to PDC’s customers, the board recognized that while DCED is a primary customer from the standpoint of funding, financial support is provided to PDC to help develop local revitalization organization capacity. As such, the board reviewed a revised mission statement that reads as follows: “The mission of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center is to build and support the capacity of local nonprofit organizations, municipalities and individuals to enhance the overall well-being and sustainability of Pennsylvania’s ‘core’ communities.” This basic mission statement will be supported by a series of definitions for those that may want more specificity. As an example, “overall well-being” is defined as the physical, social, and economic health of a community, its residents and stakeholders. This definition helps to solidify the connection between PDC’s mission and the triple bottom line of sustainable development – people, place and profit.


The board further recognized that for PDC to undertake its mission, it must do so by engaging local community leaders and volunteers and educating them to advance the sense of place, quality of life and economic vitality of the Commonwealth’s downtown’s, traditional neighborhood business districts and nearby residential areas. This realization will require greater interaction between PDC and community leadership, not just local revitalization managers. Managers, while the primary focus of the services delivered by PDC, are not the actual PDC member. The member is the local organization. PDC feels that it can better assist with local program sustainability and local manager support, buy increasing its engagement with non-profit board members, committees and local and county government. The strategy document that will be developed will place increased emphasis on enhancing these relationships. The future vision, from a program perspective, is for there to be in

place “a highly developed network of revitalization partners including individuals, local, regional and statewide non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, local municipalities, county governments and private sector businesses that are engaged, educated and empowered to plan for, implement and sustain core community renewal and enhancement efforts in their regions.” This programmatic vision represents a deep understanding that given current and projected economic conditions, community revitalization must be based on the interaction of interested partners within defined trade areas (regions) that work together to share and develop human and financial resources. The vision for PDC as an organization, is that it will be “recognized as the premier non-profit service provider and ‘thought-leader’ organization that advances, encourages, and advocates for, core community revitalization by engaging, motivating, educating

and empowering local, regional and Commonwealth-wide ‘Champions of Community Change.’” This organizational vision clearly defines a role for PDC as think-tank for the evolving concepts, methodologies and legislation behind both the Main Street and Elm Street Programs as well as Neighborhood Improvement Districts . In addition this role as thought leader envisions PDC as a primary force in the evolution of these programs at the national level. These components, as well as PDC’s business philosophy, will be incorporated into a new strategic planning document and five year plan with accompanying budgetary projections, that should be ready for the beginning of the 2013-2014 fiscal year. A complete copy of the plan, which is expected in late spring or early summer, will be available online on the PDC website upon its completion and adoption by the board of directors.





Regional Leadership Forum

Wednesday, April 3

SPRNG 2013



1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Allentown Venue TBA

Creating Visitor Experiences Workshop Tuesday, April 9th

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Harrisburg, PA Temple-Harrisburg Campus

New Manager Training

Monday, April 22nd

9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Harrisburg, PA PDC Offices

National Main Street Conference

Sunday through Tuesday, April 14th - April 16th


New Orleans, LA

New Manager Training

Monday, April 22nd

9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Harrisburg, PA PDC Offices

Safe, Clean & Green Academy

Tuesday & Wednesday, April 23rd & 24th

9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Harrisburg, PA PDC Offices

Advanced Strategic Planning (East)

Tuesday, May 7th

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Wilkes-Barre King’s College

Regional Manager’s Meeting (East)

Wednesday, May 8th

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Wilkes-Barre Venue TBA

Regional Leadership Forum

Saturday, May 18th

9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Greensburg, PA Venue TBA

Advanced Strategic Planning (West)

Tuesday, May 21st

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Johnstown, PA Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center

Regional Manager’s Meeting (West)

Wednesday, May 22nd

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Johnstown, PA Venue TBA

Regional Leadership Forum

Tuesday, June 4th

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Lewisburg, PA Venue TBA

Advanced Strategic Planning (Central)

Wednesday, June 5th

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Lewisburg, PA Bucknell University

New Manager Training

Monday, June 24th

9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Harrisburg, PA PDC Offices


Renewal Reminder

It’s almost time to renew your PDC membership. Along with a rich variety of benefits for individuals, organizations and businesses, PDC members also receive discounted registration rates for the PDC conference, trainings and events. Call Ashlee at 717.233.4675 to check on your membership status, and look for your renewal package in your inbox soon!

Pennsylvania Downtown Center presents



USING NATURE-BASED ASSETS TO ENGAGE, EDUCATE AND ENTERTAIN SO THAT YOUR VISITORS WILL TRULY EXPERIENCE YOUR TOWN AND COME BACK AGAIN! _ earn how to develop your community's natural assets into a dynamic L Experiential Program that applies to both visitors and residents. Understand how to hone an infrastructure to support Nature-Based Experiential Programs. Consider new ways to leverage Nature-Based assets.



WORKSHOP HOSTED FROM 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. AT TEMPLE UNIVERSITY-HARRISBURG CAMPUS, 234 STRAWBERRY SQUARE, HARRISBURG Continental breakfast provided beginning at 8:30 A.M. Lunch on your own. Contact us at 717.233.4675 to reserve your seat today, space is limited! PDC MEMBERS $50 | NON-PDC MEMBERS $75 HOSTED BY PDC | FUNDED BY DCED | IN PARTNERSHIP WITH DCNR | PRESENTED BY EASTWICK MARKETING

Learn more at

About the Creating Visitor Experiences Workshop by Julie Fitzpatrick, Assistant Director and Special Projects Coordinator


hat does Experiential Programming mean? Or, what does it mean to my community? Well, have you ever felt so connected to a place that when you visited it, there was something about it that felt like home? Or, did you ever think, I can’t wait to

come back again? Or perhaps thought this is the kind of place that I could retire to someday. What are those feelings and emotions that we connect with when we visit a new place? What types of experiences evoke those emotions? Did we connect with the place or the people, or perhaps the people connected to their place? In this workshop, you will be identifying those elements from within your own community that people can connect with, as visitors and as residents. What are those unique experiences that we appreciate and enjoy that help us

create memories? Learn to assess the assets that are important in defining the characteristics of your community, business district, and neighborhood that are fundamental for creating lasting visitor experiences and life-long appreciation among your residents. This workshop will focus on naturebased experiences and assets, but the methodology can be applied to other unique and authentic characteristics within a community: historic, heritage, cultural, etc. Learn how you can create places where people want to return to visit and maybe even stay to create a home.




Telling Our Stories stART: Downtown Revitalization in a Small PA City by Lorena Beniquez, Director, stART


illiamsport, Pennsylvania is best known as the site of the Little League World Series but now the town has gained a reputation for being a cultural hub.

Fortunate for me, I got the chance to direct the film, stART, in addition to writing, shooting and editing it. It was a dream job for someone who had worked in economic development for the city and as a television reporter. Like other cities across the state at the turn of the last century, Williamsport’s downtown was dying. According to some, a newly opened mall nearby was partly to blame. In addition, crime was on the increase. So dedicated volunteers formed a group to turn the tide and latched onto the idea of introducing First Friday to Williamsport. First Friday is the gathering of artists and artisans on the first Friday of each month to celebrate the arts.


Twelve years after First Friday’s introduction to Williamsport, it is hard to tell which came first: First Friday or the artists. However, one thing is sure; the two have reshaped not only the downtown, but the city as a whole. stART examines how artists and volunteers worked together to shape a new future. In celebration of the city’s collaborative spirit, stART was produced by the community for the community. For instance, the First Community Foundation Partnership pitched in needed funding; local musicians donated music, the Central PA Film Office provided technical support and PBS affiliate WVIA aired stART. There were two very important

reasons to make stART. First, the community wanted to celebrate its success. Second, they wanted to show other communities a solid case study of downtown revitalization. The film achieved both aims and even had the chance of traveling overseas for a viewing in front of the United Nation’s UNESCO conference in Belgium. The film continues to spread its message of hope through film festivals and is currently seeking national distribution. As for Williamsport’s downtown, the city continues to prosper with the addition of more hotels, shops and businesses. Now visitors are traveling to Williamsport year round and not just during the two weeks that the Little League World Series is held.







im Wilson has been the Executive Director / Main Street Manager of the Danville Business Alliance for nearly five years. He has a B.S. from Louisiana Tech University, a J.D. from Louisiana State University and LL.M. from Georgetown. Prior to working as a leader of community revitalization, Jim served the U.S. Army for over thirty years as an attorney. Jim’s varied past seems to have prepared him well for the eclectic job as a Main Street Manager. A few of Danville’s accomplishments include: • Continued economic growth in the downtown area, marked by a sustained minimal vacancy rate, more new businesses, net employment growth, and over $15 million in public infrastructure improvements, business investment, and expansion since 2008 • Completion of the preconstruction phase of the downtown streetscape improvement project • Award of a $380,000 federal transportation grant to build the

streetscape project, selection of a contractor, with construction to begin in July 2013 • Engagement of AB3 Block-byBlock Development Advisory to create a vertical development plan to transform nearly 30 underutilized upper floors into functional residential and commercial space while simultaneously preserving the area’s historic integrity • Installation of a downtown directional and informational kiosk, funded by a Montour County Commissioners’ Tourism Grant through the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau and assisted by the Montour County Historical Society • Highly successful, growing downtown events, such as Spring Fling, the Fall Arts and Crafts Fair and the Scavenger Hunt, attracting more than 25,000 visitors to downtown Danville, creating immediate economic impact and future shoppers, residents and investors

When asked what inspires him to do this work Jim replied, “Several things – growing up in a rural area, I appreciate the importance of small towns and the often fragile claim they have on their inhabitants. Danville is highly representative of hundreds of other Pennsylvania towns, where its people clearly want to preserve the best of their heritage and quality of life. Even though a newcomer to this particular small town, I have a desire to "give back" to it by finding ways to honor its heritage while also achieving its aspirations for the future. I also have a drive to excel in accomplishing the DBA’s mission to make Danville the best small town in Pennsylvania.” Jim reports that in his free moments he likes to camp, hike, bike, garden and read. He added that he ‘likes to keep his wife happy, his daughter independent and his dogs free of their vagabond potential.’




Each year, the National Trust Main Street CenterŽ recognizes the best and the brightest - five Main Street communities whose passion, innovation, and inspiring success serve as a model for communities throughout the nation. Pennsylvania communities were fierce competitors in this year’s process toward the Great American Main Street Awards (GAMSA). PDC congratulates Historic Kennett Square and Downtown Bedford, Inc. for their achievements and their longevity throughout the GAMSA award process.

BEDFORD by Beth Wood-Bergman, Field Outreach and Program Support Specialist


owntown Bedford, Inc. is the leading organization for downtown revitalization, cooperation and development in the greater Bedford area. Strategically located along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, this county seat is abuzz with activity. 10

Downtown is the center of the Bedford Historic District with over 200 contributing properties. This district provides a distinctive sense of place for the variety of shops that are established in Downtown Bedford. A multi-year streetscape project has added tremendous value to downtown shopping and dining experiences in Bedford. The addition of pedestrian lights, new sidewalks, planters, benches, bikes racks, etc. let the community and visitors know that Downtown Bedford is open for business and welcomes them!

Recently, Bedford earned a spot in the Great American Main Street Award competition. To qualify for such an honor a community must demonstrate success by implementing the Main Street Four Point Approach. This approach helps to create economic vitality, a unique sense of place and a strong commitment to community. The Main Street program was also required to be an Accredited Program for 2011 and 2012. Congratulations to Downtown Bedford, Inc. and the greater Bedford community for sustaining a welcoming downtown environment!


KENNETT SQUARE by Julie Fitzpatrick, Assistant Director and Special Projects Coordinator


rowing up in South Central Pennsylvania, I have fond memories of visiting Kennett Square as a child. My family and I would visit Longwood Gardens around the holidays to take in the grandeur and splendor of the holiday lights and the astounding display of flora and fauna. We’d always have to stop by the Phillips Mushroom store to sample some of the specialties and bring home various favorites from the Mushroom Capital of the World. Since then, my perspective of the town has changed, as well as the town. Phillips no longer has a retail store, but mushrooms and the mushroom industry are still an important element of the town, helping to provide jobs, offshoot businesses, and a flavor to Kennett Square that is part of its own unique brand. Now, as an adult, I have grown to love the new and improved Kennett Square. The downtown is thriving and I will often bring my family and friends to experience the wonderful shops and restaurants that help to create that special experience. When visiting Kennett Square, you need to bring an appetite and stay long enough to try a few different places. For breakfast or lunch, try Sinclair’s Sunrise Café & Tea Room for their yummy pancakes or creative sandwiches. There’s Talula’s Table, a great little gourmet shop, where you can grab something to take home. For a casual dinner, there’s Half Moon Restaurant or Kennett Square Inn, where you have to try their unbeatable cream of mushroom soup! If you need something a little sweet, head down the hill to La Michoacana Ice Cream. Have you ever tried corn ice cream, what about avocado? It’s worth a visit, just so you can say you did. And, don’t forget about shopping, it will give you something to do while working

up an appetite. There are a number of arts galleries and studios where you can meet the artists, trendy clothing and accessories boutiques, furniture and home décor, bookstores, you name it. If you’re in town on a Friday, you can visit the fun and diverse Farmers Market that runs year-round (just twice a month over the winter months), where you can find locally grown fresh produce, freshly baked goodies, ethnically inspired specialties, and maybe meet a local or two.

been a champion for downtown Kennett Square through the years and continues to bring her passion and dedication to the revitalization of downtown. Thank you, Mary, for your leadership in helping to make Kennett Square a town worthy of competing with the best of the best for the chance to be a great American Main Street.”

I haven’t even mentioned the festivals. From musical events and film series at the Kennett Flash, to First Friday Art Strolls. Kennett Square’s best known event is Brewfest. In its 16th year, it happens every fall bringing more than 60 regional breweries together and lots of people for a day full of fun, food, music, and oh yeah, beer. So, who helps to bring all of this together? Historic Kennett Square is charged with leading the effort, with Mary Hutchins at the helm. Mary has




El Salvador’s BID First BID in Central America by David Feehan, President, Civitas Consultants


Dave Feehan (right) and Jorge Iraheta

orming Business Improvement Districts or BIDs, as they are commonly known (and in Pennsylvania, Neighborhood Improvement Districts or NIDs) is

never an easy task. Supporters must be recruited, boundaries established, committees created, meetings held, a campaign designed and carried out, and approval secured from the local municipality – and those are just some of the steps. But what would it take to form a BID in a country – in fact a region of the world – that never has seen a BID? A country in which everyone speaks Spanish and almost no one speaks English? A city in which there is no property tax? These were just a few of the challenges faced by a group of consultants funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as they sought to create the first BID in Central America. IDB is the main source for multilateral financing in Latin America. According to IDB, it “provides solutions to


development challenges and support in the key areas of the region.” The consultant team, assembled by Civitas Consultants of Silver Spring MD and Civitas Advisors of Sacramento CA was about to find out in 2009, when Dave Feehan, Civitas Consultants’ CEO, was contacted by Diego De Sola, who represented a group of major property owners in the Zona Rosa – the traditional upscale retail and hotel district in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador. In 2002, a public private partnership was formed when the Municipality of San Salvador authorized the Zona Rosa Corporation to make comprehensive improvements to the street network of the San Benito area. The municipality agreed to this partnership on the condition that private funds

would be raised to pay for the public works improvements. The Corporation viewed this agreement as an opportunity to take a leadership role in the revitalization of the area and as a way to enhance the investments made by their members in the Zona Rosa district of San Benito. Over the next several years, the Corporation made several improvements to the district’s street network. However, the Corporation was dealt a significant setback when their lenders (like many others during this time) changed their underwriting standards to protect themselves against the impacts of the global recession. That led the Corporation’s leaders to explore new funding sources. In 2009, the Zona Rosa Corporation


contracted with Civitas Advisors and Civitas Consultants to explore the creation of a BID in the San Benito area. The Corporation’s leaders hoped to use the BID to create another revenue stream that would allow for the completion of their public works project. BIDs are defined in the US by state legislation and local ordinance and involve levying an assessment on a property or a business within a defined geographic area (typically a commercial district) for the purpose of supplementing and enhancing existing municipal services. Revenues from this assessment are directed back to an organization in the defined area to finance a myriad of enhanced improvements and services such as public works, security, marketing, maintenance, economic development, tourism, promotion, parking, special events, among others. Members of the Civitas Team were: • David Diaz, President of the Downtown Raleigh (NC) Partnership • David Feehan, President of Civitas Consultants, Silver Spring MD • John Lambeth, President of Civitas Advisors, Sacramento CA • Larisa Ortiz Pu-Folkes, President of Larisa Ortiz Associates, New York NY • Lorena Parker, Project Manager, Civitas Advisors, Los Angeles CA • Liliane DeGeus, President, Link Development, Kralendjik, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles Diaz, Ortis Pu-Folkes, Parker and DeGeus all are relatively fluent in Spanish. The project simply could not have happened without bilingual consultants.

Because El Salvador has no property tax, the working group of local leaders and consultants wrestled with many ideas that might allow a “levy” of sorts to be created. After many frustrating dead ends, an idea appeared: why not attach the levy to the municipal electric bill, which pretty much everyone paid? In addition to the levy, another source of ongoing funding was created. The group installed street lights in the median that allowed for banners to be hung, and sold advertising space on the banners, which paid for the cost of the banners plus additional funds for “clean and safe” patrols. Finally, this past December marked the official kick off of the BID with a celebration and the presenting of an award as the first BID in Central America by David Downey, President of the International Downtown Association and David Diaz, the lead consultant on the project. There are many lessons that can be learned from El Salvador. But two things are sure: without the persistence, commitment, and ingenuity of a few local leaders like Diego and Jorge, this project simply could not have happened. And without the presence of IDB, funded largely by US foreign aid, the team from the US would never have been able to provide the expertise needed to create the BID. This website provides background information on Zona Rosa: article.html?id=1358

The San Benito area boasts a handful of well-known hotels, some significant retailers, and some fine restaurants, as well as a museum. However, across a main road is one of the most impoverished barrios in the city. Street crime is a major issue, and corruption is a problem as well. Two key individuals associated with the Zona Rosa Corporacion provided the energy, commitment and leadership to see through what at first seemed a nearly impossible task – Diego De Sola, who represented a family-owned firm controlling a good deal of property in the district; and Jorge Iraheta, who served as the Corporacion’s general manager and point person for the project. The process was long and difficult, and often frustrating.



d s a i o d r e s ’ o e ddi e l ti ry gems of the pennsylva nia coun try sid


using) m a nd a ( ing z a am





mazing and amusing gems dot the countryside of Pennsylvania. In my travels throughout the state, I am constantly finding things that catch my attention and make me laugh – or make me think. Often I think: “What the heck were they thinking?” I’ve visited about two thirds of the United States and have lived in five states. Nowhere have I seen the concentration of quirky buildings, statues, plants and animals that I have found here. I am in love with this place!

Around Christmastime in Shamokin Dam, this Santa perched atop a topiary giraffe certainly caught my eye. Am I the only one who finds this stuff funny?

Ants crawling up a building in Philadelphia. No, they’re not painted on. They’re sculptures attached to the building!

This old theater in Oil City is so over-the-top I don’t know how to describe it. A basket of grapes on top of the turrets? Are those lobsters on the side? It’s so colorful and whimsical – I sure wish someone would renovate this beauty before it’s too late.


WHERE do the buffalo roam? Why, Bedford County, of course.


A giant metal sculpture of a bicycle-built-for-two alongside a gigantic praying mantis. This is near Boswell on Route 30. You can’t make this stuff up.

This guy peers from the side of the Oil City theater building. He looks like he smelled something bad, doesn’t he? Hopefully not the performances at the theater… And if that little guy was not strange enough, what about this gargoyle on the side of a Butler, PA bank?

This bear is carved from an old tree trunk. Not so unusual, perhaps, but the homeowner regularly dresses this guy up in gear to celebrate different seasons. Note the Model T tooling down this street in Stoystown. Milton, PA. I LOVE THIS.

I don’t know the story behind this minstrel who towers over the Lincoln Highway just outside of Schellsburg. Perhaps he’s a remnant from some early amusement park that no longer exists. You almost have to see him in person to get the full effect, but check out the telephone poles beside him to get a sense of scale.

I can’t be the only one who loves this stuff, am I? Take a look around the next time you are driving through another town. You never know what treasures you might discover.

| Hey, hey! I may be coming to YOUR town! | 15



Community Events: Small or Large, Economically Beneficial


by Rick Viglione,

ommunity events are a lot of work, but the rewards can be significant. Good planning, great volunteers and, of course, a good time for all of the visitors. Whether it’s a decade old event in a busy commercial downtown or a newly developed gathering in a small Elm Street community, make your visitors experience memorable.

14th Annual Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous

What started out as a friendly gathering with a few carvers who shared their newly developed skill has grown into an international event drawing over 200 carvers to the small Elk County seat of Ridgway. Thousands of visitors come to watch in awe as both beginner and veteran carvers remove pieces of wood to create whimsical creatures and lifelike animals. So, besides the experience of watching this noisy art form, what is in it for the community? Plenty! What else is there to do in late February? It wasn’t an accident that this time of year was chosen. Event organizers, Rick and Liz Boni, determined that February was perfect since the carvers who wanted to attend and learn from each other were busy during the warm weather months competing at various happenings and hosting their own carving events. The cold weather hasn’t deterred thousands of visitors from across the country or hundreds of carvers from as far away as Japan and Germany. While visitors can purchase completed pieces of art from small bears to a custom backyard bench, the event’s closing auction draws hundreds of hopeful bidders. Completed pieces go for a few hundred dollars and


some for thousands of dollars. So who benefits? Everyone does. The area’s hotels, motels and B&B’s, restaurants, bars, local shops and local civic groups who sell homemade soups, sandwiches and hot coffee. Headlines from the Bradford Era, an area newspaper support this fact with the following headline on February 25, 2013:

“Ridgway derives economic boost from Chainsaw Rendezvous” RIDGWAY — With Ridgway becoming the mecca for chainsaw carvers wanting to learn from the masters of the craft, thousands of visitors who want to see the extreme art form in action are also bringing with them something equally as important — their wallets.

Greensboro Elm Street Chili Cook-Off

For the fourth straight year, the Greensboro Chili Cook-Off drew pots of spicy concoctions from near and

Big Winner Linda Chambers shows off her winning prizes! far to this quaint community located along the banks of the Monongahela River in Greene County. With only 260 residents, Greensboro is by far the smallest Elm Street Program in Pennsylvania. But that hasn’t slowed their enthusiasm or progress. Major projects targeted by this energetic group of volunteers includes, the renovation of the Greensboro school; the Lock House clean-up, renovation and re-use project; and the construction of a canoe / kayak launch. Let’s talk chili! Entries ranged from a vegetarian chili submitted by Greensboro Borough Council President and Elm Street Committee member, Mary Shine to a chili that contained ground beef, Italian sausage and pepperoni. The winning recipe contained steak and corn …. The judges, all owners of area restaurants, stated that all of the entries were good, and very different from each other. Even Elm Street Manager, Darlene Urban Garrett submitted an entry, using her daughter’s recipe that contained beer, coffee and zucchini …. interestingly enough, it was gluten-free. So, besides a great evening of good eats and socialization, who benefits? The Elm Street Program. All proceeds generated from this annual event will support the Elm Street Program Community Revitalization efforts. Not bad for a community of 260.

Office location | 1230 N. Third Street • Harrisburg, PA 17102 Mailing address | P.O. Box 1265 • Harrisburg, PA 17108 717.233.4675 (p.) • 717.233.4690 (f.)



In today’s challenging budgetary environment, a solid plan, built around an asset-based, market driven vision is critical to...


Pennsylvania Downtown Center presents a comprehensive workshop on Advanced Strategic Planning, coming to a town near you.

TUESDAY / MAY 7th King’s College




Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center

WEDNESDAY / JUNE 5th Bucknell University



9:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

Continental breakfast provided beginning at 8:30 A.M. Lunch on your own. Contact us at 717.233.4675 to reserve your seat today. Visit events-calendar/asp for more details.


Pennsylvania Downtown Center Office location | 1230 N. Third Street • Harrisburg, PA 17102 Mailing address | P.O. Box 1265 • Harrisburg, PA 17108 717.233.4675 (p.) • 717.233.4690 (f.)

CenterPiece Spring 2013  

PDC's quarterly newsletter

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you