The plan is reinvention; the subject, cities that are looking for new ways to grow.

Change is inevitable, but it’s not only changes in demographics, mobility, and technology that force cities to reimagine themselves.  Even the environment, which can affect things like stormwater management can help shape a city. 

Planning Director of Lawrence County, Amy McKinney, tells us, “It’s definitely a time to really show off Erie, and get people to start thinking about what’s possible–not only in Erie, but in the communities that they are coming from.”

Erie is the host city for the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association’s annual conference.  It’s bringing some 350 urban planners, architects, and consultants from across the region and state to share their ideas and learn. 

Mayor Joe Schember says, “We’re really looking for, ‘how do we transform Erie? How do we get more people living here? How do we get more jobs here? How do we really value and celebrate the diversity, the very rich diversity that we have here in Erie?'”

It was just in August that the Urban Land Institute came to Erie to find recommendations on how the city can be competitive in the 21st Century. 

Tom Murphy, Senior Fellow for Urban Land Institute, says they need to think about “…how the city restructures itself; how it thinks about reinvesting resources in its neighborhoods…”

According to the former Pittsburgh Mayor, Tom Murphy, Erie’s turnaround is on the right path, but it must include all residents.  “This can’t be an island of development. It needs to be part of a larger context and that really is the mayor’s challenge.”

Erie’s Planning Director, Kathy Wyrosdick, points to master plans and community surveying as evidence of that work. “We’re really working closely on how to align all of those priorities and really move the city together forward, and I think we’re doing that in amazing ways.”

Urban planners say a big part of moving forward together is working together as a region and private and public partnerships. 

The three-day conference comes to a close tomorrow.