Monday, August 22, 2016

Potter County: Connecting With PDC To Support Local Communities

Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover is serving on the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Downtown Center. The Harrisburg-based organization offers technical and educational assistance to help community leaders keep their downtowns vibrant, which is a stiff challenge in an era of online shopping and other competitors for retail dollars. “A thriving community is a long-term asset that must be constantly nurtured, maintained, and promoted. It is a revitalization effort that continues on and on.” This quote from the membership brochure epitomizes the philosophy of the organization. PDC cites design, organization, “place making,” and economic restructuring as the four cornerstones of strength can work together or at different times in creating a vibrant downtown. Kefover said she accepted appointment to the board to pursue technical assistance, training and educational tools that would help to identify funding, strengthen local bonds, and help communities to measure what works and what doesn’t. “When the commissioners hired John Bry as a downtown redevelopment consultant, he began empaneling local leaders to adapt these principles to fit each community,” she explained. “Part of the goal was to develop a new focus, a united revitalization effort in each community, and begin to build — little by little — on successes.”

During a recent PDC meeting, board members learned of experiences in the small York County community of Delta, where the center’s staff was retained to muster community assets to fight against a serious drug epidemic. “It became obvious that providing places to meaningfully connect with youth is important in sustaining a strong barrier against this life-threatening epidemic,” Kefover noted. “At first glance, it would not seem important that our downtowns can be partners in drug prevention. However, places that provide vibrancy, interest, commerce, and interaction meet a core need in all of us that we belong to community, that we are not alone. It was another realization that we are on the right path in all these initiatives; none is too insignificant an effort.”