Reimagine. Reinvest. Grow.

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Reimagine.  Reinvest.  Grow.  It’s the theme emerging from a group of experts visiting Erie this week.

City and civic leaders want Erie to become a destination for people to live, work, and play.  Today, they’re getting feedback from experts on our progress and recommendations on how to move forward. 

The Urban Land Institute has some advice for reimagining Erie and making downtown more attractive.

Richard Reynolds, of Chair Advisory Services with Urban Land Institute, says, “What has to happen, I think, is the recognition that you’re not ever going to go back to the way it was. GE’s not coming back with a heavy industry plan. So, it’s the med’s. It’s the ed’s, it the hi-tech.”

The organization sent a team of land-use and urban planning experts to Erie this week.  Among them, former Pittsburgh Mayor, Tom Murphy.  He lived through the turnaround in the Steel City and he says it can happen here, too.  “We had lost 60 percent of our population and clearly lost our heavy industrial, a lot of our jobs. And that’s sort of where you are. So, I see a lot of similarities between Pittsburgh and Erie.”

After touring the city and interviewing around 80 stakeholders, the advisory panel is emphasizing the needs for synergy between the private and public sector. 

Mayor Joe Schember says, “We’ve formed a lot of groups that we’re getting input from. This seems like it would kind of be like an overarching group that would kind of accommodate or include everyone who is affecting Erie’s progress.”

They say there needs to be clear strategies for identifying capital as well as commitment from everyone with interest in the city; from Erie Insurance to the Erie Downtown Development Corporation and others.  Timothy NeCastro, President and CEO of Erie Insurance, says, “And so, we’re going to work very close with the Mayor’s administration–both the private sector and the other sectors–to help the city take over.”

Schember adds, “We’ve got a vision. They’ve given us some specific ways we can accomplish that vision, which is extremely exciting to me. I can’t wait to get to work on this stuff.”

The Urban Land Institute gave some early ideas based on their research and interviews.  But, they’ll send a full report to Erie in about 2-3 months.

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