It was an afternoon of collaboration, discussion, and listening as future plans for downtown Erie are unveiled. Hundreds joined together for the annual Erie Downtown Partnership Membership Meeting.
The annual meeting has grown significantly over the years from a group of just a dozen people to now more than 200. Among those guests, many of Erie’s elected officials like Mayor Joe Schember and County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper.
Similar to previous years, the Erie Downtown Partnership is offering grants for downtown businesses. Totaling $25,000, business owners can apply for facade improvements and the purchase of security cameras. There will be $15,000 available for facade improvements and $10,000 for security cameras.
John Buchna, the CEO of the Downtown Partnership, stresses the importance of businesses and organizations working together.
Now known as the Erie Downtown Partnership, the organization is an agent of change in the area bounded by Presque Isle Bay to the north, the 14th Street railway bridge to the south, and stretching from Sassafras to Holland Streets.
Stakeholders within the area have been empowered to determine effective methods – in services provided, initiatives begun and projects to be carried out – that will result in the increased vibrancy of the downtown.
Property owners within the designated area contribute to the organization according to an assessment formula based on the value of land and buildings, all with the coherent and single-minded goal of making downtown Erie a better place to live, work, shop, learn, play and do business.
John Melody, Downtown Business Owner, tells us, “We’ve invested in Erie the last dozen years or more… and now it seems like there’s a new energy. There’s new things happening… There’s an energy… there’s a vigor in downtown that’s palpable and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
Buchna says, “This is a great opportunity for our community to come together as an organization that’s part of a team that’s looking and working to make a better Erie… Part of our message today, other than working together, is the fact that we’re going to be investing more in the community. We have facade funds available for these owners, we have security funds available for these owners.”
Planning is also underway for the downtown Block Parties. This year there will be some changes and some new additions. Buchna says, “We’re going to go rock the dock. We’re going to put a Block Party down at Dobbins Landing and work with the great partners there… We’re also going to be working with our local brewers. So, we’re going to be combining more of what people have been saying they’ve wanted from the events.”
Applications for those grants are now available for downtown business owners online at http://www.eriedowntown.com/.