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The AGe of WonderS

A beloved Erie landmark awaits its makeover

Decades of

Staying Power


Community assets thriving on tradition and trends

12th St. Corridor Erie’s gauge of industry and commerce

Established 1902 Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership


Centuries of tradition.

Decades of commitment.

In celebration of the Perry 200 Commemoration, we pay tribute Th e reg ion ’s pr to longtime ERCGP member companies who have consistently and generously supported our community.

M e M ber s f or 30+ y e a r s

1920s The Huntington Bank 1920 First National Bank of PA 1927 National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp 1927 PNC Financial Services Group 1927 1930s UPMC Hamot 1930 Times Publishing Company 1932

1940s Manufacturer & Business Association 1943 John V. Schultz Co. 1946 1950s Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA, Inc. 1950 American Hollow Boring Company 1950 American Tinning & Galvanizing Company 1950 Burton Funeral Homes 1950 AAA East Central 1950 Erie Insurance Group 1950 Eriez® 1950 Saint Vincent Health System 1950 Walker Real Estate 1950 Amthor Steel Company, Inc. 1953 Penelec—A First Energy Corporation 1953 Rick Weaver Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Inc. 1953 YMCA of Greater Erie 1953 J.H. Bennett Moving & Storage 1954 Marquette Savings Bank 1954 Verizon 1954 Erie Plating Company 1955 Gannon University 1955 Penn State Erie, The Behrend College 1955 Glenwood Beer Distributors 1957 Hubbard Bert Karle Weber, Inc. 1957


1960s G.J. Miller Auto Supply 1961 Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C. 1962 Brugger Funeral Homes 1964 BASF Corporation 1964 John J. Quinn Funeral Home, Inc. 1964 Coldwell Banker Select Realtors 1967 Erie Bearings Company 1967 Fuhrman Brown Precision Tool Company 1967 Lakeport Distributors 1967 First Niagara Bank 1967 Northwest Savings Bank 1967 Morris Coupling Company 1968 Erie Beer Company 1969 1970s Penn Shore Vineyards, Inc. 1970 Erie Construction Council, Inc. 1971 Erie KOA Campgrounds 1971 Baldwin Brothers, Inc. 1972 Mercyhurst University 1973 Doyle Security Systems 1974 B.F. Fields Moving & Storage 1974 George Winston Company, Inc. 1974 Peek’n Peak Resort & Spa 1974 C.H. Reams Associates, Inc. 1975 Insurance Management Company 1975 Loesel-Schaaf Insurance Agency 1975 Mazza Vineyards 1975 Ralph Miller Jewelers & Gallery 1975 Engel O’Neill Advertising 1976 Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith, Inc. 1978 United Way of Erie County 1978 Erie Business Center 1979 Rupp Limousine 1979

1980s Sara Coyne Campgrounds 1980 Quality Inn Suites/Super 8 Motel 1981 Erie Zoological Society 1981 pUrchase Austin ServAll Concrete 1982 TicKeTs online E.E. Austin & Son, Inc. 1982 www.eriepa.com/beeronthebay The Erie Community Foundation 1982 advance advance dd (inclu Erie Homes for Children &inAdults, Inc.vip 1982

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Erie-Western PA Port Authority 1982 Greater Erie Community Action Committee 1982 Industrial Sales & Manufacturing Company 1982 Triangle Tech 1982 Time Warner Cable 1982 for more information: ww ArtsErie 1983 Beute & Bliley, Inc. 1983 Chido’s Cleaners 1983 Edinboro University of PA 1983 EmergyCare 1983 GE Transportation 1983 HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie 1983 Larson Texts, Inc. 1983 Plymouth Tavern 1983 Presbyterian Homes 1983 The Hite Company 1983 Transportation Equipment Supply Company 1983

Members appear by their current business name, reflective of changes, acquisitions and/or mergers.

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Erie Magazine JUNE/JULY 2013

JUlY 27Th, 2013

What’s Inside bUrger King amphiTheaTer liberTY parK in erie, pa 2 sessions: 12 pm-3 pm & 4 pm-7 pm

*Tickets will be available for purchase at the entrance Professional Perspective 2 to Liberty Park on the day of the event. General Admission $35 | VIP $50 | DD $20

New Investors 4 ww.eriepa.com/beeronthebay | (814) 454.7191 x123 FE ature Ar ticle s The Age of Wonders 14 A beloved Erie landmark awaits its makeover By John Chacona

Staying Power


Community assets thriving on tradition and trends By Mary Birdsong

IN e ach issue Organizational Updates 6 Chamber Economic Development Consistent Features 10 Erie Entrepreneurship Health: Let’s Get Outside and Move! Regional Initiative Updates 18 Destination Erie: A Regional Vision Erie Vital Signs

12th Street Corridor 24 Erie’s gauge of industry and commerce By Tricia Wood DeMarco

Special Edition ERCGP Timeline


Follow, Fan, Tag, Connect…

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

Professional Perspective by Debbi Lyon Erie County Library Clerk, Genealogist, Erie Historian

Great things happen when people make a commitment to work together. The Erie Chamber of Commerce rolled out the red carpet for President William H. Taft when he came to Erie on September 19, 1911. He arrived by train at the old Union Depot on Peach Street and was taken directly to the Majestic Theater on West 10th near Peach Street to a banquet hosted by the Chamber. The headline of the Erie Sunday Herald stated, “Monster Crowd Greets President Wm. H. Taft.” It took an army of volunteers and skilled workers to convert the space into a suitable dining area. “The Majestic Theater was decorated with flags and bunting and made an ideal banquet hall. A floor was built over the parquet seats level with the stage, thus providing seating arrangements for over 800 people…the President’s table was almost in the center of the hall and he was seen and heard to the best possible advantage.”

“The Erie Chamber of Commerce was the new kid on the block when it formed back in 1902…” Taft spent two nights at the Strong Mansion on Sixth and Peach (now Gannon’s Old Main) and was given a grand tour by Mrs. Strong. He was a family friend, having attended Yale with Charles H. Strong. Taft was given the royal treatment during his brief stay. Afterward, he sent a message which was published in the Erie Evening Herald: “It has been a

June/July 2013

great pleasure to meet the people of Erie. I am glad to have been the first President to visit this interesting and enterprising city…The cordial reception by the people, who in great numbers lined the streets from station to auditorium, was very gratifying.” The Erie Chamber of Commerce was the new kid on the block when it formed back in 1902, the beginning of its Decades of Commitment to the Erie community. The Board of Trade, the granddaddy of local business groups, started in 1874. Leaders from each organization worked together in 1913 and hired famed city planner John Nolen, who had designed neighborhoods and parks in more than fifty cities, including Charlotte, NC and San Diego, CA. Nolen’s recommendations to extend and improve the city were presented in the form of a 255-page book, “Greater Erie.” This work is still referenced by scholars a century later. The partnership was so successful that the Chamber and the Board merged in 1914 and formed the Erie Board of Commerce. A series of name changes have helped mark the decades of evolution of the Chamber as it expanded and became more inclusive of the region. The debut issue of Erie Magazine hit the streets in January of 1912, and its purpose was “to interest the people of Erie to a greater effort in all undertakings which are intended for the uplift of the city along every line. It has a further aim of explaining to the entire world the many attractive features of the City of Erie as a place of residence and an industrial center.” The magazine has exceeded this goal, continuously documenting the accomplishments of hundreds of Chamber members over the last century.

Decades of Commitment

Editorial/Contributor List Another publication, “Five Great Advantages,” was produced by the Chamber in 1926 to convince manufacturers to relocate or build new plants in Erie. According to this booklet, Erie had: 1) Big, rich market in overnight reach. 2) Short freight hauls, “Main Line” service to nation’s buyers. 3) Basic raw materials in easy reach. 4) Steady, intelligent workers. 5) Power, water, fuel, cheap and plentiful. Surprisingly, the four railroads that served Erie operated a total of 52 passenger trains per day. The Chamber of Commerce presented a new tourist attraction, the Edison Electric Fountain, to the City of Erie on October 22, 1929. It was dedicated to Thomas Edison in honor of Light’s Golden Jubilee, a week-long celebration of the invention of electric light. “Said to surpass even the Atlantic City fountain, there will be eight changes in water effects, the entire light cycle requiring 10 minutes for completion,” said the Erie Dispatch Herald. The fountain was constructed by General Electric and was paid for by the City of Erie and donations from local citizens and businesses. The Chamber called it “an object of beauty and inspiration to the community at large.” Currently, the fountain is the centerpiece to Mayor Joe Sinnott’s revitalization of Perry Square. (Read more on page 15.) The Chamber has sponsored hundreds of community events over the years, including Erie’s first Winter Carnival in 1963. The nine-day celebration took place in Perry Square and coincided with the beginning of the Perry Sesquicentennial. How fitting that we are about to mark the bicentennial of Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie! It’s a shame that the decades of decadence are over. We don’t have the unbridled prosperity that enabled manufacturers along the Twelfth Street corridor to employ three shifts of workers to produce goods 24/7. But we can- and should- pay homage to the titans of industry by restoring and repurposing the old buildings where our ancestors worked. We have an opportunity to transform the landmarks of yesterday into the launching pads of tomorrow. It’s in our best interest to help the region live long and prosper. The next time you are stuck at a red light, take the opportunity to notice the amazing structures that still stand proud, committed to the city which built them.


2013 ERCGP Board of Directors Donald Birx, Ph.D. Robert Mazza John Bloomstine Marlene D. Mosco Carl M. Carlotti Jack A. Munch Terrence Cavanaugh Neil Parham Rosanne Cheeseman James W. Riley Gary L. Clark James Rutkowski, Jr. John Dill Matthew Schultz Mary L. Eckert Nicholas Scott, Jr. Scott Eighmy Gretchen Seth Jeffrey Evans, CFP Ronald A. Steele James Fiorenzo Keith Taylor, Ph.D. Barbara Haggerty David Tullio Thomas C. Hoffman II Russell S. Warner Timothy Hunter Michael Weber Charles G. Knight Scott A. Whalen, Ph.D. John P. Leemhuis, Jr. Mary Beth Wilcher Marsha Marsh Julie Wollman, Ph.D James E. Martin, Chair Scott Wyman 2013 ERCGP Staff Barbara C. Chaffee President/CEO Jacob A. Rouch Vice President, Economic Development

Douglas M. Massey Manager, Erie Business Action Team Cathy Noble Events Coordinator

Claudia K. Thornburg Vice President, Chamber

Benjamin C. Pratt Director of Research

Linda C. Robbins Financial Officer

Susan M. Ronto Membership Coordinator

Joelyn J. Bush Director of Marketing & Communications

Nadeen M. Steffey Account Executive

Sabrina Chirco Economic and Workforce Development Specialist Editor Joelyn J. Bush Contributing Writers John Chacona Mary Birdsong Tricia Wood DeMarco Contributing Photography Erie County Historical Society Design PAPA Advertising PAPAadvertising.com Advertising Information: Nadeen Steffey, Account Executive (814) 454.7191 x139 nsteffey@eriepa.com


Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

New Investors SILVER LEVEL


Candace Littell, LLC is a consulting firm that combines deep health policy knowledge with diverse business expertise to advise organizations on emerging health care developments.

Erie’s first extreme fitness center, obstacle trails, cross fit, group personal training classes, free weights, machines and much more.

Candace Littell, LLC

Ms. Candace Littell 1001 State Street / Suite 1400 / Erie, PA 16501 (814) 460-1241 / www.candacelittell.com

B RONZE LEVEL Fortis Institute Erie

Post-secondary occupational skill institute, including computer, medical, legal, court reporting and secretarial specialties. Mr. Peter Correa 5757 West Ridge Road / Erie, PA 16506 (814) 838-7673 / www.tsbi.org

Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County

Since 1906, the VNA of Erie County’s mission has been to provide quality, cost effective home health care and hospice services to residents of Erie County, regardless of the ability to pay. Ms. Christine O’Brien 2253 West Grandview Boulevard / Erie, PA 16506 (814) 454-2831 / www.erievna.org


Mr. Salvatore Rachuna 8348 Edinboro Road / Erie, PA 16509 (814) 520-6390 / www.facebook.com/3ringbox


Provides chief financial officer services to companies having revenues between $1 million to $75 million. B2B CFO partners help companies reach a high level of success using the proven six step process called The Gameplan. Mr. Jim Merski 4338 Cooper Road / Erie, PA 16510 (814) 397-2645 /www.b2bcfo.com/partner/jimmerski

Comdoc Inc.

A Xerox company specializing in workflow optimization. Comdoc has led Fortune 500 companies to achieve better financial results, improve operation efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Mr. Robert Desilets 55 Amherst Villa Road / Buffalo, NY 14225 (716) 689-0202 / www.comdoc.com

Creative Affairs Design, LLC

A single source solution for all of your advertising and marketing needs. Offering custom branded solutions… printing services, brand integrity, corporate identity, graphic design, merchandise branding, promotional products, web and media development. Ms. Katie Hanlin-Stachewicz 1913 West 8th Street / Erie, PA 16505 (814) 520-8120 / www.creativeaffairsdesign.com

Edward Jones

Full service financial firm. Financial planning, insurance and estate planning. Mr. Dillon Loomis 5031 Peach Street / Erie, PA 16509 (814) 864-1939 / www.edwardjones.com

The Erie Radio Company Radio station. happi92.7

Mr. Rick Rambaldo 1229 State Street / Erie, PA 16501 (814) 455-4545 / www.happi927.com

June/July 2013

Decades of Commitment

Ignite, Inc.

Presta Contractor Supply, Inc.

Ms. Lynn Hayes (412) 736-7735 / www.lynnhayes.igniteinc.biz

Mr. Tim Presta 2669 West 16th Street / Erie, PA 16505 (814) 833-0655 / www.prestasupply.com

Jess’ Choice, Inc.

Rambaldo Gonda Media

$5 billion energy company headquartered in Dallas, TX offering residential and commercial electricity and gas to area residents and businesses in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Georgia and Texas.

Erie’s women’s shoe boutique. Offers fashionable ladies footwear and accessories. Mr. John Fee 410 Millcreek Mall / Erie, PA 16565 (814) 868-9000 / www.jesschoice.com

Marsh Spaeder Baur Spaeder & Schaaf

Law firm engaged in the practice of banking law, bankruptcy, business and tax law, elder law/Medicaid, planning, estates and trusts, family, litigation/insurance defense, personal injury, municipal and zoning, real estate law, oil and gas law and unemployment compensation. Mr. Bud Stark 300 State Street / Suite 300 / Erie, PA 16507 (814) 456-5301 / www.marshspaeder.com

MBS Solutions-Miller Brothers Staffing

A staffing firm that understands the needs of the clients and individuals they represent. The business’s goal is to find candidates who bring success, not only to themselves but to the company as a whole. Mr. Drake Parker 1611 Peach Street / Suite 100 / Erie, PA 16501 (814) 454-1300 / www.millerbrotherstaffing.com

Norampac Industries

Has the most complete corrugated production facility in New York and Western Pennsylvania. Norampac manufactures corrugated pads, boxes and displays. Ms. Kate Crespo 4444 Walden Avenue / PO Box 7575 / Lancaster, NY 14086 (716) 651-2000 / www.cascades.com/norampac/en/

Northwest PA Chapter NTMA

NWPA NTMA is a trade association focused on promoting the advancement of excellence in precision custom manufacturing through cooperation between members, educators, associated organizations and government in the regions served. Ms. Tami Adams P.O. Box 203 / Meadville, PA 16335 (814) 720-0094 / www.nwpa-ntma.com


A local family-owned full service distributor and manufacturer of quality residential and commercial building products.

Full service advertising agency. Mr. Rick Rambaldo P.O. Box 9700 / Erie, PA 16505 (814) 836-1111 / www.rambaldogonda.com

Rich Arlington & Associates

Rich is the author of, “Why Not You”, a Business Speaker, consultant and seminar presenter on topics ranging from business ethics, pricing, sales and marketing, finance and staying motivated in the business world. Ms. Victoria Delaney 1600 Maple Avenue / Lake City, PA 16423 (814) 864-2586 / www.richarlington.com

Snap Fitness Harborcreek

A 24 hour fitness center that promises results! Offers personal training, group fitness classes and nutrition and diet planning. Get fit, feel great and be well! Mr. Scott Simonsen 4059 Buffalo Road / Erie, PA 16510 (814) 314-8588 / www.snapfitness.com

Susan Hoffer, LPC

Susan Hoffer provides high quality, confidential counseling services to teens and adults in the areas of mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and behavioral addictions, eating disorders, family and couples issues, life transitions, and stress management in general. Ms. Susan Hoffer 2502 Powell Avenue / Suite #6 Erie, PA 16506 / (814) 732-0983

TREC-Therapeutic Riding Equestrian Center

Serving the Erie community with equine-assisted activities and therapies for people with physical, emotional, cognitive and social disabilities. Safe and effective programs designed by professionals. Mr. Dean Maynard 8342 Platz Road / Fairview, PA 16415 (814) 474-5276 / www.trecerie.org

Victory Security

Provides full service security guards. Mr. Scott Spinnato 2133 West 8th Street / Erie, PA 16505 (814) 454-1922 / www.victorysecurity.com



Organizational Updates Chamber by Claudia Thornburg Vice President, Chamber The focus of this issue is “Decades of Commitment”. The staff of the ERCGP wants to thank you for the resources, be they financial or human capital, pledged to our organization throughout the years. Please take a moment to review the inside cover listing nearly 100 of our current members that have supported the Chamber for more than thirty years. The impact of membership on small and large businesses varies in complexity and formality and the strength of this relationship can be measured through continuity and engagement. To some, membership means increased credibility and visibility in the community and to others it offers an opportunity for stewardship and corporate social responsibility. Whether it’s a loyal customer vendor relationship, or a more complex arrangement between organizations, committed relationships have considerable

Follow, Fan, Tag, Connect…

June/July 2013

impact on business enterprises. Take the referral for instance; a referral suggests a favorable relationship built upon confidence, trust and respect. It also requires a degree of responsibility to perform and is where many business relationships begin. It is truly an intriguing and satisfying business phenomenon fostered through Chamber membership. Commitment is a two way street and the staff of the ERCGP holds itself responsible to our members by having integrity, showing initiative, and embracing innovation in the decisions made on behalf of our membership. The summer of 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most historic and event filled in recent history. There will be many occasions to reflect on our history, dedicate the future and strengthen our commitments to the community at large

and the dedicated businesses that have provided employment opportunities, growth, support and services throughout the decades. Once again, THANK YOU for your continued support.

“To some, membership means increased credibility and visibility in the community and to others it offers an opportunity for stewardship and corporate social responsibility.”

Decades Commitment O R GAN I Z ATI OofNAL U PDATE S

Economic Development by Jake Rouch Vice President, Economic Development There are many dates and events that are seen as a “watershed” or “transformational” in the history of any community. Erie is no different. Throughout the summer in Erie, we will be celebrating Erie’s role in the Battle of 1812 via the Perry 200 events. Our community’s role in that battle is a proud moment in history for all of us and put us on the map. As time progressed, there were other transformational moments that helped our community evolve and develop: the Mill Creek flood, the development of the Erie Water Works, construction of interstates 79 and 90 in Erie County, designation/creation/ preservation of Presque Isle State Park, and the election of Governor Tom Ridge are a few that immediately come to mind. Economically, though, it is impossible, in my mind, to rank anything higher than the decision of General Electric to open their locomotive manufacturing operation in Erie in 1907. When people ask me how important GE is to Erie, I always start by asking, show me another metropolitan area whose largest employer has been the same every year for over 100 years. I have yet to have one identified. The jobs and wages paid by GE built homes (many of which helped to create


new neighborhoods); sent kids to college; enabled families to buy or build family cottages, camps and boats; created vacation memories; and provided families with the resources necessary to build lives throughout the Erie region.

“As business people, I am certain that you all share one trait regardless of the nature of your business: you consistently thank your customers for business.” As business people, I am certain that you all share one trait regardless of the nature of your business: you consistently thank your customers for business. It is their faith in you and your product or service that puts bread on the table for you and your employees. Your thanks is extended to all customers – regardless of size of purchase. It is a simple issue of respect and etiquette.

I’d like to take this moment to thank GE. For over 100 years, they have been the Erie region’s largest customer. They have consistently bought Erie – and we have consistently delivered. I’m not so certain we have said thank you enough and I hope we have not viewed their business as an entitlement, although I do believe some of us are guilty of that. So while it appears the “order” placed by GE is going to shrink, let’s not lose sight of what a great customer they have been, the magnitude of the order that can be retained by this loyal customer, and continually ask ourselves what we can do to service this customer better. But let’s start with, “Thank you, GE. We have appreciated your business for the last 100 years. You have changed our community for the better over that time, and we are grateful. How can we help you moving forward?” That is how you retain a customer. That is how you start the second 100 year relationship.

Keep up to date with all of our organizational happenings at eriepa.com


July 18

5:00–7:00 p.m. PA CareerLink® Erie County 155 West 8th Street Erie, PA

August 15

5:00–7:00 p.m. JET 24, FOX 66 & YourErie.com 8455 Peach Street Erie, PA Business After Hours is a members only networking event of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. Contact Cathy Noble at (814) 454.7191 x146 or cnoble@eriepa.com for more information.

September 26

5:00–7:00 p.m. Girl Scouts of Western PA 5681 Route 6N Edinboro, PA


Get “the word” out


My Word for My Y The YMCA of Greater Erie needed to get “the word” out to engage members, staff and other stakeholders in their 2013 Scholarship Campaign. PAPA realized that each person’s experience with the Y is different…and how they describe it. Shared via outdoor, direct mail, videos and life-size displays, PAPA’s “My Word For My Y” campaign allowed everyone to express just that. The result was record-breaking participation and contributions for the Y. For more info on this campaign, visit http://PAPAsolved.com.

PAPAadvertising.com PROBLEMS SOLVED.

June/July 2013

Decades of Commitment



ERIE Entrepreneurship Contributed by John Leemhuis, Jr. Esq. Shareholder at the Quinn Law Firm Chamber, Committee Chair When you hear the word entrepreneurship, you may think of risk takers who run start-up businesses. But, in my experience, I have also seen great examples of individuals in more established businesses that possess an entrepreneurial spirit. So who is an “entrepreneur”? Is entrepreneurship limited to new ventures? What are its characteristics? Howard Stevenson, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, famously defined entrepreneurship as the “pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled,” a definition considered by Inc. Magazine as “the best answer ever.” This definition does not limit entrepreneurship to a certain size business despite the fact that many people may relate entrepreneurship with start-up ventures. Whether the business is large or small, the true entrepreneur exhibits certain traits. Predominantly, these traits are persuasion, leadership, personal accountability and goal orientation. An entrepreneur is someone who urgently pursues their vision with a singular relentless focus. Despite all of these positive attributes, it’s clear that entrepreneurs face challenges and limitations. One study found that as a group, entrepreneurs tend to lack empathy, planning, organizational skills, and selfmanagement. Because of these limitations, it’s obvious that an entrepreneur cannot survive without support. Resources in the form of human capital are needed to augment the deficient traits of the June/July 2013

entrepreneur. It’s not uncommon for a successful business to be led by a real visionary…along with a skilled chief financial officer and/or chief operating officer! Aligning resources to compliment the entrepreneur’s skills can increase the likelihood of a venture’s success. An entrepreneur’s challenges are not limited to human capital needs. The phrase “beyond resources controlled” from the definition of the term entrepreneurship means that the entrepreneur operates in a business environment populated with constrained resources. A lack of adequate financing is a frequent and significant issue for the entrepreneur. The common scenario for a budding entrepreneur is to use his or her own money, then turn to friends and family for the venture’s financing needs. Depending on the entrepreneur’s connections, these financial resources are usually insufficient for the venture to reach its break-even point and become self-sustaining.

Some communities have done a better job than others in creating an environment that celebrates and encourages entrepreneurship, and importantly, have the human capital and financing available to support the entrepreneur. You may be surprised to learn that, according to the National Venture Capital Association, Pennsylvania has two of the top 15 cities in the country when it comes to venture capital cash invested in startups. Philadelphia is ranked ninth and Pittsburgh thirteenth. The model in Pittsburgh may translate better to Erie than what is occurring in Philadelphia, but the point is that we don’t have to look far to see examples of real success. We will look more closely at what has happened in Pittsburgh over the past ten years and discover what that community did to help create an environment that supports entrepreneurship. Some of those initiatives may be replicable in Erie.

Decades ofNT Commitment CO N S I S TE FE ATU R E S

health :

Let’s Get


and Move! Contributed by Melinda Meyer

The Let’s Move Outside! Erie County Recreational Passport weaves together art, heritage and healthy living, and is a collaborative program of Erie Yesterday, Erie County Health Department and VisitErie. It is Erie County’s pilot initiative as a Let’s Move! County.

With the support of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Let’s Move Outside! Erie County Recreational Passport launched last year with ten Erie County walking/biking trails.

In 2010, First Lady Obama launched Let’s Move!, a national campaign encouraging counties, cities and communities to use local resources such as museums, parks, trails and schools to help children and adults be more active. Erie County offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation and fitness with more than 140 parks and trails, dozens of annual walks, runs, outdoor clubs, and many cultural sites and attractions to explore. Despite these great opportunities for physical activity and outdoor fun, Erie County joins communities throughout the nation in the “battle of the bulge.” The 2011 Erie County Adult Profile found that 65% of all Erie County adults are overweight or obese.

New for 2013, recreational trails include: • Lawrence Park • Albion • Lowville • Greenfield Township • McKean


Rural trails: • Union City Area School District • Fairview Township • Washington Township • Asbury Woods Nature Center • Harborcreek Township Sidewalk trails: • City of Erie • North East • Corry • Waterford • Girard

Local artist Tom Ferraro designed and constructed fifteen public art pieces which serve as the LMO! Erie County Recreational Passport trail markers. Using methods he learned as a residency artist, Mr. Ferraro engaged youth from each of the trail communities in the design process. The printed LMO! Erie County Recreational Passport and website,

www.letsmoveoutside.org, offer trail maps, trail information, local history content and other interesting things to see and do within each trail community. Visit the website to learn where passports are available and pick one up at the ERCGP/VisitErie offices today!

How does it work? STEP #1: Register on the program website www.letsmoveoutside.org. Registration allows you to document your progress and work your way toward qualifying for the grand prize drawing in November. STEP #2: Walk, run or bike the passport’s 15 trails and find the single artist-designed marker located along each trail. A unique 10-digit pass key is displayed on each trail marker. Once you find a marker, record the pass key in your passport booklet. (Remember to take a pen or pencil with you!) You can log in to the program website at any time and enter the pass key. After entering all 15 pass keys, you are automatically entered into the grand prize drawing. You could win a mountain bike or one of several other great prizes. The program runs May 24 through October 20, 2013. Grand prize winners will be drawn and awarded by November 30.


He a dl iner August 16, 2013

He a dl iner

He a dl iner

August 17, 2013

August 18, 2013

Downtown Erie PA - celebrateerie.com

Downtown Erie PA - celebrateerie.com

Downtown Erie PA - celebrateerie.com

Perry 200 Events


Cruise Town Erie

in association with many community groups

August 15 - 18

Complete schedule @ www.perry200.com

Complete schedule @ www.celebrateerie.com

Join us in Downtown Erie this summer

June 25 - 30 Community Pageant July 4 • Fireworks July 11 - 14 • Erie Arts Fest August 23 Happy Birthday Commodore! September 5 - 8 Tall Ships Erie September 8 Grand Finale

Sounds of Summer Mondays 7pm June 17 - August 12 Complete schedule @ www.erie.pa.us

Starting July 9 Complete schedule @ www.porterie.org

Roar on the Shore July 18 - 20

June/July 2013

Bike Nights May 17 June 14 July 12 August 30

Thursday Night Downtown Block Parties

8 Great Tuesdays

Complete schedule @ www.roarontheshore.com

June 7 July 27 August 23

Joseph E. Sinnott Mayor

June 6 • Sluggers June 13 • Sullivan’s June 20 • U Pick 6 Tap House June 27 • Molly’s/Sherlock’s July 11 • The Brewerie July 25 • Park Place/ Boardwalk August 1 • Plymouth August 8 • The Cell Block August 22 • SeaWolves August 29 • Scully’s Pub

Decades of Commitment


June/July 2013

Edison Fountain, Postcard Coll., ECHS.

“If Perry Square is the heart of Erie, then the fountain may be the heart of Perry Square.”

Decades of Commitment

The Age of

Wonders A beloved Erie landmark awaits its makeover by John Chacona An Erieite riding the State Street trolley north in the closing months of the 1920s would have marveled at the new Erie Trust Company building at 10th Street, a 14-story skyscraper that rivaled those of any metropolis. Rolling past the Trask, Prescott and Richardson department store at 9th Street, a massive excavation was underway for a theatre that the Warner Brothers promised, with Hollywood bravado, would be unsurpassed for opulence. And just a block north, on the west side of the street, another foundation was being laid for the Erie Dry Goods Company’s colossal new store, to be crowned by a clock tower. It was a time of giddy optimism and easy money. The stock market was soaring. The vaudeville houses and speakeasies were buzzing. The Lake Erie shoreline dispatched big steamers laden with Pennsylvania coal and locomotives, and quietly welcomed smaller swift motorboats with their cargo of bootleg Canadian whiskey. One quarter of the people living in the city as the decade came to an end were not there at its beginning, many of them arriving from war-ravaged Europe and the Jim Crow South to seek their fortunes in the Gem City’s humming factories and docks. It was a time of wonders, but as the leaden grey clouds of late October gathered ominously overhead, the greatest wonder of the magical decade had yet to dazzle Erie. It was the electric fountain, better known to us at the fountain in east Perry Square. We’ve lived with this landmark for so many years that we’ve come to take it for granted, grandma’s dusty broken lamp that turns out to be

ER CG P Timelin e eriepa.com

a Tiffany. But when the fountain was new, it mesmerized viewers as the Las Vegas Bellagio Fountain does today. Consider this breathless description from the Erie Times: “The fountain is so built that it requires ten minutes to view it in all its phases. There are scores of water shoots, all playing water in a picturesque array. From the interior of the project come the rays of lights, red, blue, amber, yellow, green, all shading as the various cycles of light and water are executed.” This Industrial Age multimedia show was more than mere entertainment. The fountain was dedicated to Thomas Alva Edison in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his invention of the incandescent light bulb, another wonder of the age that seems commonplace today. Designed by engineers from General Electric Co., the company Edison founded, it cost the princely sum of $16,487 to construct. Of that amount, the City of Erie contributed only $5,000, with the remainder coming from private contributors and what was then known as the Erie Chamber of Commerce, the organization that publishes this magazine. Though its role is not documented, the Chamber likely organized the solicitation of funds from prominent businesses of the time. The list reads like an industrial history of Erie: Jarecki Manufacturing Company, NuBone Company, Inc., the Union Iron Works, Whitman-Pfeffer Coal Company.

1874 Erie Board of Trade

The articles of association read, “We desire to advance the commercial mercantile and manufacturing interests of the city of Erie… This association shall be composed of persons interested in commerce, finance, manufacturing and the mechanic arts of the city.”


Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

These organizations and private citizens came together in common cause to erect a public monument to Edison’s discovery. It was a rare moment, and in many ways a poignant one. Exactly seven days after the fountain’s dedication on Tuesday, October 22, 1929, the stock market crashed on what has come to be known as Black Tuesday. It was a day that was to change the world.

fountain is the third to have stood on that spot. He acknowledges that it is not in good condition, despite the renovation that removed the circular curb in the late 1980s, but there is a master plan for Perry Square that includes renovation of the fountain. City Engineer Doug Mitchell says the project is well underway. “We’re still looking for a major private partner in order to completely rebuild that deteriorated fountain. You’re talking $400,000 to $500,000. The structure is not sound, and $30,000 has been put in, in the last year alone just to keep it running.” Kidder is hopeful, though, and in classic Erie fashion, he looks to the past for solutions to today’s challenges, specifically to the way that a public-private partnership brought the Edison Fountain into being.

Edison Fountain, Postcard Coll., ECHS.

Architect Jeff Kidder wants to change the world again—at least that portion bounded by Peach and French Streets, North and South Park Rows. Kidder was a founding member of the Perry Square Alliance, a civic group the purpose of which was, he said, “to do for Perry Square what LEAF did for Frontier Park or the Presque Isle Partnership does for Presque Isle.

“That has to continue with our public spaces,” he asserts. “A fountain in the park is an amenity. It’s an enhancement, but not a necessity, so the citizens need to take some pride and initiative to make their environment better, and I think you’re seeing it. I hear about making things nice for visitors, but why can’t we make things nice for those of us who live here seven days a week?”

“I hear about making things nice for visitors, but why can’t we make things nice for those of us who live here seven days a week?” Kidder called Perry Square “Erie’s Central Park”, and that was the name by which the park was known until it was renamed for the centennial of the Battle of Lake Erie a hundred years ago. If Perry Square is the heart of Erie, then the fountain may be the heart of Perry Square. “The fountain is a significant object in the park and has been for a long time,” Kidder points out, and the current

1902 Erie Chamber of Commerce

According to the March 7, 1902 Erie Evening Herald, “At a banquet held at the Reed House last evening, the Erie Chamber of Commerce was launched… The gentlemen June/July 2013 who assembled… were the active young business and professional men of the city. There were many of the older members on the Board of Trade present…”

Perry Fountain, Erie Story Archives, ECHS.

An Erieite today might drive north on State Street past the new Perry Square towers and a gleaming new Erie Art Museum and a vibrant entertainment district. The granite-clad 100 State Street building is the Baldwin Building of its day, the iconic structure of another boom decade, and a shiny new hotel rises where the land runs out and the water begins.

1914 Erie Board of Commerce

The Erie Board of Trade and the Erie Chamber of Commerce merged in 1914 to form the Erie Board of Commerce. “The Board of Commerce is a means of expression for the business men of Erie – their organized spokesman …” The Board maintained bureaus for publicity, retail merchants, farms, credit rating, and traffic (shipping), and Industrial and Civic departments.

Decades of Commitment

“A fountain in the park is an amenity. It’s an enhancement, but not a necessity, so the citizens need to take some pride and initiative to make their environment better…” But the boats are much less frequent now. As Erie beats against the current of commerce that flows less on sea lanes and rail lines than through fiber optic lines, the past calls to us with visions of waters dancing through a rainbow of light in a darkening sky. “I hear about making things nice for visitors, but why can’t we make things nice for those of us who live here seven days a week?” If Perry Square is the heart of Erie, then the fountain may be the heart of Perry Square.


Tax Credits For Building Rehabilitation: A Catalyst for Economic Development

Date & Time: Tuesday, June 11th, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Location: Admiral Room-Blasco Library Who Should Attend: Building Owners, Economic and Community Development Agencies, Elected Officials, College and University Administrators, Developers Weber Murphy Fox (WMF) will present a program on utilizing tax credits to rehabilitate historic buildings. The program will focus on the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit program, which is available for historic and non-historic buildings if the buildings are used in a trade or business, or held for the production of income. Information on the new Pennsylvania Historic Tax Credit program, New Market Tax Credits, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and Energy Tax Credits will also be provided. Learn about rehabilitation tax credit program guidelines and eligibility, the tax credit process, and assembling a successful tax credit team. Specific Erie case studies will be used to illustrate tax credit opportunities and ownership structures. The goal of the rehabilitation tax credit is not to preserve buildings as museums, but to put them back to use to meet housing, retail, commercial, and industrial needs. By rehabilitating directly or investing in the rehabilitation of eligible buildings, taxpayers can take advantage of a twotier tax credit. The federal income tax credit is equal to 20 percent of the cost of rehabilitating historic buildings or 10 percent of the cost of rehabilitating non-historic, nonresidential buildings constructed before 1936. Tax credits are one of the most valuable tools for saving historic buildings and making projects economically feasible, often spurring other private and civic investment that together revitalizes neighborhoods and communities. WMF provides expertise in the development, design, management, and delivery of Federal and State historic tax credits to property owners for the rehabilitation of historic buildings. With emphasis on the reuse, rehabilitation and expansion of existing buildings, WMF has a history of working closely with clients to help turn historic buildings into project financing assets. For more information, call (814) 836-1515.



Erie Chamber Ad, circa 1963.







Regional Initiative Updates Destination Erie: A Regional Vision Join the Conversation!

Erie VITAL SIGNS: Early Love of Reading will Rewrite Erie’s History

by Ben Pratt, Director of Research and Project Coordinator

Contributed by the Erie Community Foundation

The second phase of Destination Erie: A Regional Vision (DEARV) has officially been launched. What does this mean? It means we need your input! DEARV has developed two key surveys to provide the public with the tools they need to help shape the community’s vision of the Greater Erie Region for the next 40 years. The first survey is known as the “Metroquest Survey”. Metroquest is a community engagement surveying software that DEARV is utilizing to help identify, rank and prioritize the vision and land development characteristics of all of Erie County. The data from the Metroquest survey will help us develop two key deliverables: 1. A Preferred Future Land Development Scenario, 2. A Vision Statement (a statement that is reflective of our aspirations for the community in 2040). The second survey is called Economic Framework Action Ideas Survey. This survey was developed around three key themes that were identified in Phase 1 by the Economic & Workforce Development Work Group and Consultant Team Communities for Regional Economic Competitiveness (C.R.E.C.) and they are: 1. preparing the next generation workforce , 2. taking and managing risktaking that will lead to a next generation economy and, 3. building the leadership to guide collaborative civic investments that anticipate change.

June/July 2013

When going through the economic survey, you might find yourself thinking “All of these sound good, why wouldn’t I want ALL of these?” It is important to note that this is just the first step in prioritizing these ideas. Furthermore, it is critical that you share any or all additional ideas you have under each one of the questions. Your input is truly valuable, and your ideas could be the missing link keeping us from moving forward, so please JOIN THE CONVERSATION and participate in these two surveys today! You can find them on www.planerieregion.com. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a meeting with a group to walk through the surveys together, feel free to email Ben Pratt at bpratt@eriepa.com OR Michael Fuhrman at mfuhrman@ eriecountygov.org or call (814) 451-6200.

Erie Vital Signs reports: 43.3% of children under age five in Erie County live in low-income families, up from 41.9% the previous year. 18.6% of births are to mothers with less than a high school education, up from 17.3% the previous year. 26.1% of Erie County third graders scored below proficient on the 2009 PSSA reading test, up from 23.8% the previous year. To reverse these trends, United Way of Erie County and The Erie Community Foundation just launched the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The project dramatically increases literacy rates and is open to all children in Erie County under age 5, regardless of household income. “Through children’s books, we can create an early love of reading, which will impact our children and change history,” said Bill Jackson, president of United Way of Erie County.

Once a child is signed up for the Imagination Library, he or she will receive in the mail one book a month from Parton’s headquarters in Tennessee until

Decades of Commitment R EG I O NAL I N ITIATIVE U PDATE S

the child turns age five. The free books are of high-quality and are age-appropriate. “More than 17,000 children are under age five in Erie County, and our goal is to sign up as many of those kids as we can,” said Mike Batchelor, president of The Erie Community Foundation. Current data from Erie Vital Signs shows 60 percent of children in Erie County enter kindergarten without adequate language and literacy skills. Almost a third of Erie County third graders are not at proficient reading levels, which increases the chances of these children dropping out of high school. “We believe the Parton Project will impact these statistics and rewrite the future of our community,” Batchelor added. Dolly Parton created the initiative in 1996 to ensure every child would have access to

quality books, regardless of income. The reading program currently provides books to nearly 700,000 children in 2,000 communities across three countries. “The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has achieved stunning results in communities around the world. We couldn’t be more excited to bring this project to Erie County,” Jackson added. To date, The Erie Community Foundation, United Way, other local businesses, and individual donors committed $475,000 to the project’s success.

effort. United Way officials will target neighborhoods with pockets of high poverty and low-income families. Ultimately, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library will rewrite Erie’s history…one book and one child at a time. To learn more, visit www.unitedwayerie.org/ imagination.

All families in Erie County with children under the age of five are eligible to enroll in the program; however, through strategic community partners and an intentional outreach and marketing plan, at-risk families will be a focus of the

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June/July 2013

Erie Club Parlor present day

“These three organizations, all ERCGP members, each hold a golden ticket of resilience.�

Decades of Commitment


Power Community assets thriving on tradition and trends by Mary Birdsong Longevity is a point of pride. Bruce Hemme, owner of Pufferbelly Restaurant with his wife Mary Ellen, talks with amazement about their business being established for nearly 30 years. Jeff Lawson, general manager of the Erie Club, talks proudly about how the club has been meeting the needs of its members since the 1880s. Scott Mitchell, executive director of the Erie Zoological Society boasts of the organization’s creation 51 years ago, its competent board members and long-time community support. These three organizations, all ERCGP members, each hold a golden ticket of resilience. But it didn’t come to them without hard work, a nose for what works (and doesn’t) and an eye toward making sure the customer is happy.


The rich histories of these organizations reveal that their foundations were solid from the beginning. The Erie Club really got off the ground when it purchased the Greek Revival mansion of General Charles Manning Reed at West Sixth and Peach streets in 1905. The magnificent architectural details of the home encouraged membership, as it felt regal and refined and was perfectly suited for the who’s-who list of Erieites. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been one of the club’s strongest assets and a durable symbol of prestige.

1922 Erie Chamber of Commerce

Erie Board of Commerce changed its name to the Erie Chamber of Commerce in January 1922.


Pufferbelly’s history started with the former first ward firehouse on French Street and became an instant classic when it opened its doors in 1984 to reveal authentic firehouse memorabilia and a forward-thinking menu. “We took the risk of opening in what was then a very unconventional area,” says Bruce Hemme. “We wanted to offer a different atmosphere and distinctive food offerings, something Erie hadn’t seen. “ The Erie Zoo had its origins in the early 1920s and by 1930 the landmark Elephant House was dedicated. But what is now, formally, the Erie Zoological Park and Botanical Garden of Northwestern Pennsylvania marks it origins in 1962, when the Erie Zoological Society was formed to oversee the operations. Unlike many zoos, which are owned and operated by municipalities, the Society was formed by a group of citizens. “That is significant,” says Scott Mitchell, executive director. “From the beginning, Erieites have supported the organization and call it ‘our’ zoo, not ‘the’ zoo and the stable 10,000-strong membership reflects that sense of ownership.” While strong roots are essential, so is keeping things fresh. The three organizations have remained nimble, meeting the changing desires of their constituency. Jeff Lawson says that keeping up with trends in dining is critical but keeping

1950s Greater Erie Area Chamber of Commerce

The name change reflected expanded involvement beyond the city. “Since 1874 service Erie’s Civic, Industrial and Commercial Development,” read a mid-1970’s newsletter. A Millcreek Chamber of Commerce, since absorbed, was one of the Chamber’s divisions.


Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

Engine No. 1 building exterior, ECHS.

Erie Club dining room, ECHS.

Erie Zoo building exterior, Glenwood Zoo, ECHS.

Erie Club, ECHS.

up with other facility amenities is also important. “Besides addressing the latest food trends, adding casual dining options and relaxing the dress code at the Erie Club, we’ve also added WIFI and audio visual systems to our meeting rooms. We’ve become more family-friendly with a newly revamped children’s menu and additional activities.” But he adds, “menu favorites have been retained, of course.” The same is true at Pufferbelly. “We’ve added a lot of things over the past 30 years but we still have 13 items on the menu that remain unchanged since the beginning,” says Bruce Hemme. “We’ve tried taking some items off the menu and our regulars make us put them back on,” he says with a chuckle. “We are not going to make our customers unhappy.” Even though the Zoo does not have a menu to worry about (at least for the visitors), it is just as vigilant in keeping up with trends. In 1964 the Glenwood Ice rink was built to

1978 Erie Area Chamber of Commerce

expand attractions for the fledgling organization, in 1970 the wildly popular “Koehler Polars” came to town and in 2002 the Wild Asia exhibit opened to rave reviews. “We’ve worked hard to make our exhibits more naturalistic and to bring people closer to the animals and to become accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” says Mitchell. That was achieved in 1985 and the zoo undergoes reaccreditation every five years. Mitchell continues, “accreditation, among other things, has allowed us to participate in the Amur Leopard breeding program, which is not only a big tourist draw but impacts the conservation efforts of these endangered animals on a worldwide scale. This very successful program puts Erie on a global map in conservation circles and makes our institution more solid.” A thriving zoo gives Erie a distinction that very few cities this size typically have, which is appealing to newcomers and corporate recruiters. Mitchell notes that many businesses use the zoo as a recruiting tool, especially for prospects with young children.

The name change reflected the Chamber’s expansion to involve the entire Erie County and beyond. The new circular chamber logo had eight bands representing the Chamber divisions at the time: Economic 2013 Development Council. Tourist and Convention Bureau, International Trade June/July Bureau, Membership/Public Relations Council, Millcreek Chamber of Commerce, Governmental Donated Foods, Greater Erie Safety Council and Commercial Development Council.

1985 North Coast Business Week

Predecessor to the current North Coast Quality Week, the first annual North Coast Business Week was held in 1985. The conference was one of the biggest “quality” conferences in the nation, hosting more than 5,000 attendees in 1992.

Decades of Commitment And the same is true of the Erie Club and Pufferbelly. Both Jeff Lawson and Bruce Hemme also mentioned that company recruiters often bring job candidates to their establishments to show them what Erie has to offer. But whether it’s maintaining tradition or offering up a new dining experience or animal exhibit, the key to longevity they all say is becoming an integral part of the community.

“These three organizations, all ERCGP members, each hold a golden ticket of resilience. But it didn’t come to them without hard work, a nose for what works (and doesn’t) and an eye toward making sure the customer is happy.”

Erie Club present day

“We are very lucky in that we have staff who have been with us for a very long time and multiple generations of guests who are now much more than patrons,” says Pufferbelly’s Hemme. “We have couples who came here on their first date and now come in for their wedding anniversary asking for their original table. We have been to the weddings, baptisms and funerals of customers’ family members and have employed individuals when they were young and now, their children. We are proud that so many Erieites trust us; to us these connections are better than any money we can make.” Jeff Lawson echoes those remarks about the Erie Club. “The club is essential for so many members of the community. We host meetings and weddings, provide a place for families to be together and support business men and women with the amenities that let them network and entertain confidently.” And while each of these organizations is responsible for generating millions of dollars for the community, it is not just about the money to them. Jeff Lawson says “The club participates in a wide variety of community partnerships from Erie Downtown to initiatives with our neighbor Gannon University. We believe that when the community does well, we do, too.” And Scott Mitchell adds “we have the most supportive community a zoo could ask for and we, hopefully, will continue to provide a cultural asset that is an attractive feature of the community.” Bruce Hemme summed it up best. “This is more than commerce; Pufferbelly is a community asset, a place where locals bring out of town guests because they are proud to say ‘this is ours.’”

Erie Zoo present day

Proud MeMber Since 1920


1987 Erie Excellence Council

Formed in December 1987, as a division of the Chamber, the community quality council, based on tenets of quality master W. Edwards Deming, grew to 26 committees with nearly 800 volunteers. The Erie Quality Award, based on the then eriepa.com new Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, was also established in late 1987.



Erie Malleable Iron Corp., Bench Core Room, July 23, 1934, Gerald Hedrick Coll., ECHS.

June/July 2013

Decades of Commitment

12th Street

Corridor Erie’s gauge of industry and commerce by Tricia Wood DeMarco Just as walkways on college campuses evolve from footpaths of least resistance, the largest roadways often start the same way. In our region’s case, 12th Street began as a path flattened by the moccasins of historic Native American tribes in the 15th and 16th centuries, to hoof prints and ruts from horses and wagons in the 1700s and 1800s, to the tracks of railroads and streetcars from the mid-1800s to early 1900s, right up to the pavement of today’s fast-moving cars, trucks and big rigs.

“The number of major manufacturers along 12th Street was staggering at the turn of the 20th Century and through the 1950s.” And all along the way, commerce has advanced in tandem. Twelfth Street was destined to be the “workhorse” of Erie roadways because, thousands of years ago, receding glacial ice left it flat and straight. Much, much later, railroads – which once numbered 17 sets of tracks according to Erie entrepreneur Rick Griffith, founder of Rick Griffith Properties – left it wide as well.

In addition to owning several large industrial buildings along 12th Street – all eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historical Places – he is a volunteer Ambassador for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. As a longtime Erie Ambassador host, Griffith points out that Erie’s geography on the Great Lakes – including its natural harbor – has always made it desirable for business transportation. Connected by water (including at one point an extension of the Erie Canal) to Buffalo, Cleveland and Canada, Erie played an historic role in the industry of the Great Lakes. In the mid-19th century, Erie was an important shipbuilding, fishing and railroad hub where three sets of track gauges met. When gauges were nationally standardized, Erieites rioted in the Erie Gauge War, ripping up tracks and burning bridges from December 1853 to February 1854. However, emotions and railways were mended, and industry focus gradually switched from fishing and shipping to iron, steel, and the products made from them, much of it located along 12th Street.

Griffith should know.

The number of major manufacturers along 12th Street was staggering at the turn of the 20th Century and through the 1950s. Highlights included Bucyrus Erie, Erie Malleable Iron, Griswold Manufacturing Company, the Ball Engine Company, The Erie City Iron Works, The Burdett Organ Company, and the Erie Rubber Company, many of which are still standing and eligible for listing on the National

1988 The Cornerstone of Business

1992 Total Quality Management Institute

New logo, reading “The Chamber – The Cornerstone of Business” appearing on a slab of marble, reaffirmed the Chamber’s central purpose.


Funded in part with federal (ARC) money, this Chamber operation trained 90 teams from organizations in eight counties in 1992, and expanded to 16 counties in 1993.


Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

Twelfth Street railroad tracks. This photo was taken by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation circa 1930 of a section of the famous Nickel Plate Road tracks along East 12th St. The Nickel Plate Road once connected, by rail, the major cities of Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Toledo. The term “Nickel Plate” was used to describe the substantial financial backing of the railroad in the Norwalk, Ohio Chronicle of March 10, 1881.

East 12th St. Gulf Station. According to Rick Griffith, auto and gas companies bought up portions of 12th Street in the 30s and 40s to make sure their product would have a place to be used as in the accompanying photo. East 12th St., Penndot Coll., ECHS.

Proposed viaduct, Penndot Coll., ECHS.

Register of Historic Places according to Annita Andrick, director of Library & Archives at the Erie County Historical Society. Erieites of a certain age may recall that it was commonly said that a man could walk down 12th Street and find a job that would support his family for life – stable, middle-class jobs with benefits and pensions. Although the focus has evolved, major manufacturing continues

“What was once strictly manufacturing now includes a healthy mix of distribution and retail as well as government and educational facilities.”

Griffith properties for instance, owns the old Skinner Engine Company at 337 West 12th Street. Skinner made steam engines, turbines and boilers, many for marine applications, from 1880 to 1960. At 75,000-square-feet, the property offers six industrial suites and one office suite. Griffith Properties also owns 801 and 901 West 12th Street at the corner of 12th and Liberty Streets, which was once part of Zurn Manufacturing and currently houses businesses as diverse as Peninsula Pups Doggie Daycare, Inc. to Keystone Automotive parts and supplies. The family real-estate business extends well beyond the 12thStreet properties, including Lovell Place at 153 East 13th St., and more than half-a-dozen other large commercial complexes. Griffith Properties started out as an electric and construction company, which still exists, and ended up buying properties and rehabbing them in the winter when other work slowed down.

to adapt to this day and new and emerging types of commerce also exist, very often supporting and supplying one another, according to Griffith. What was once strictly manufacturing now includes a healthy mix of distribution and retail as well as government and educational facilities As businesses along the roadway continue to adapt to the times, now many of the historic factory buildings are being reused and repurposed as part of a growing trend to preserve our industrial past and supplement its future.

Although in the process of retiring from his business, many of the boards on which he serves, and the Chamber’s Ambassador program, Griffith almost hesitates to use the word “retire.” He plans to spend more time with his family, including “10 grandchildren, presently.” Perhaps Erie’s best-known optimist, whose motto, “Believe in Erie,” appears at the entrance to all his buildings, he will step down gradually as his daughter, Michelle Griffith-Aresco, takes over the helm.

2002 Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

2005 Edinboro Area Chamber of Commerce

In November 2002, the Boards of Directors of three non-profit organizations – Erie Conference on Community Development, Erie Area Chamber of Commerce, and Erie Insight – agreed to merge and form the Erie Regional June/July 2013 Chamber and Growth Partnership with a mission to provide leadership for business retention, expansion and attraction.

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership enters into an agreement with the Edinboro Area Chamber of Commerce to further enhance business attraction, retention and expansion efforts in the region.

Decades of Commitment

Erie Malleable Iron. The oldest complex along West 12th Street, Erie Malleable Iron was a major employer in the region from 1880 through the mid-1950s. Erie Malleable Iron Corp., building exterior, West 12th St., Gerald Hedrick Coll., ECHS.

Griffith says traffic on the roadway is 25,000 to 28,000 vehicles per day, many of them with drivers and passengers commuting to work. “If you want to get across town quickly, use 12th St. The Bayfront Parkway is a great way to get to the waterfront and UPMC Hamot, but it was never meant to handle the volume of 12th Street. So the two work well together,” he points out. With this much traffic, it is no wonder Griffith’s optimistic signs touting a positive local attitude get plenty of notice. Raised on Erie’s east side, a graduate of Cathedral Preparatory School and Gannon University, Griffith sees great promise here, and he has backed it up with his property investments. “Old businesses are changing, but things are always changing. People who move here from other communities embrace Erie. They like it. We as a community have to start believing in ourselves. We have to embrace that,” he says passionately.

Making iron castings, Erie Malleable provided work for all as shown in this May 1945 Assembly Line photo from the Erie County Historical Society. Erie Malleable Iron Corp., Assembly Line, May 1945, Gerald Hedrick Coll., ECHS.

them a place to start, software, hardware, tech support, affordable funding.” He sees the future, which is already supported by a number of incubation programs at the regional colleges and universities, as one that already has many bright spots, particularly our strong presence in plastics manufacturing, three local hospitals, and a number of trade schools in addition to colleges. Next time you’re driving along 12th Street, take note. You won’t be disappointed. Every block contains active businesses from manufacturing to commercial, retail, medical, restaurants and more. And a man, or woman, can still find work and opportunity there. “We can’t put Erie down,” Griffith emphasizes. “We can’t sell it if we don’t believe in it ourselves.”

“Erie needs the innovation of the young companies coming up. We need to incubate and foster them so they don’t move out. We have five colleges and universities around Erie,” he points out. “We have to give the graduates compelling reasons to stay.” He cites the Jumpstart program in Cleveland as a model, www.jumpstartinc.org. “This is really an innovative approach to incubating companies, giving

2008 Harborcreek Chamber of Commerce

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership enters into an agreement with the Harborcreek Chamber of Commerce to further enhance business attraction, retention and expansion efforts in the region. eriepa.com


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June/July 2013 Chamber Ad Full-Pg (0613).indd 1

5/11/13 2:26 PM

Decades of Commitment

The Imagination Ball October 19, 2013

A fun and unforgettable celebration of imagination for the Imagination Library, an initiative to provide a free, high quality book to all children in Erie County from birth to five years of age. Tickets are $150 each. Contact United Way of Erie County at 814-456-2937 or visit UnitedWayErie.org for ticket and sponsorship information!

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for more information: www.eriepa.com/beeronthebay | (814) 454.7191 x123 June/July 2013

Profile for Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

ERIE Magazine June-July 2013  

Since the Chamber's inception, in 1902, the local business community has collectively invested and sustained the ERCGP program of work. In t...

ERIE Magazine June-July 2013  

Since the Chamber's inception, in 1902, the local business community has collectively invested and sustained the ERCGP program of work. In t...


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