Throughout Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, many downtowns have experienced economic growth and decline patterns. When economic decline becomes a creeping issue or an already massive white whale, community leaders and residents must take up mission to combat the decline in a way that gives a sense of place and utility for current residents.
“Downtown Revitalization” is the name given to these efforts. The term “revitalization” is defined as “to give new life to”.
Beyond community volunteers and access to capital, revitalization is dependent on the willingness and capacity of the municipal government. Often the enthusiasm of creating a plan forgets that the plan will need implementation.
Even the most intelligent, successful and passionate volunteers cannot be part of the day-to-day municipal management that needs to manage funding and move larger projects forward. Assessing the internal capacity of a municipality is key and bringing elected officials to the table helps revitalization move steadily ahead. Municipalities need to be active partners with their communities and find ways to help residents achieve their revitalization goals.
This may require some adjustments, but new life has always been worth it in the end. As Cumberland County communities find their revitalization rhythm, plenty of partners are available to give advice and share ideas. The road to revitalization is not a lonely one, but if no one is willing to even step up they will never find the other participants or reach the end goal.
Photo of Carlisle, Pennsylvania by Doug Kerr via Flickr.