Keystones from the Keystone State

Keystone-Blog-ImageThe Fourth Economy team completed several client engagements this year in our home state of Pennsylvania.  The Commonwealth’s economic character remains diverse, anchored on each side by first and second-class cities with just over 50 smaller third-class cities dominating the remaining landscape.  While Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are realizing steady gains, in many ways the greatest opportunities and challenges remain in the smaller more rural communities.  The good news is that increasingly shifts in resident preferences and the deployment of new technologies are placing these smaller, authentic communities in the bulls-eye for new investment in growth.

Among our Pennsylvania projects, the team worked with the City of Lebanon to develop a new economic development plan and downtown reinvestment strategy.  We also worked with the Armstrong County School District just outside of Pittsburgh on a school building highest and best use analysis.  And finally a project with the Butler County Community College (BC3) focused on developing an innovative new system for the delivery and promotion of its economic development services.
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Inspire Yes, But Act As Well

Coffee-Shop-1099Tis the season for annual conferences – that chance each year for trade groups to tout their accomplishments and relevancy. The Fourth Economy team attended our fair share. What we find scary is that while the workshops and keynotes are conveying the seismic changes occurring in our economy, change on the street, in our communities and programs, appear to keep on keeping on as if it were, oh say, 1999. Many of the metrics for growth we heard remain focused on absolute land development, job creation (regardless of type and cost) and more office space.   Continue reading “Inspire Yes, But Act As Well”

Ready, Set, Survey…

Survey-Tailgate

As summer BBQs turn to fall tailgates, how often do you find that neighborly backyard burger flipping leads to discussions on how great your town is or how much better it could be.  Sure there is always room for improvement, but ever wonder how those opinions and impressions sync-up with the facts.  Sometimes we are too hard on our own community when it may really be doing quite well, while other times it is heading for a cliff that nobody seems to notice or care.  In either case, gaining a better understanding of how impressions align with the facts is a good starting point for long-term strategic planning. Continue reading “Ready, Set, Survey…”

What Do Craft Breweries Say About Your Community?

Craft-BrewingYou must know that I (and all of us at Fourth Economy) love local craft beer.  It is among the first things we seek out when visiting both new and familiar communities across the country. Beyond the beer, we also love the places in which they are brewed – the small-towns and big-cities. Those revamped car dealership buildings – home to some favorites such as Fargo Brewing, ND and Kalispell Brewing, MT. That former “mom-pop” auto repair place at the end of dead-end dirt lane – visit Helltown Brewing in Mt. Pleasant, PA. The funky food trucks, local farm to table options and impromptu bluegrass open mic nights that round out the ever-changing scene and texture that is the craft brew pub experience.  We love it all!

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New Investment and Programs Follow Altoona, PA’s Downtown Housing Study and Development Plan

Altoona-UpdateAt the end of 2014, Fourth Economy in partnership with Pfaffmann and Associates and Fourth River Development Company, completed a downtown housing market study and redevelopment plan for the City of Altoona in central Pennsylvania. This is another action plan being fully implemented by local stakeholders.  Several buildings were targeted as part of this study for redevelopment into market rate urban style apartments, condominiums and destination retail. Programmatic and financing strategies were also identified. Continue reading “New Investment and Programs Follow Altoona, PA’s Downtown Housing Study and Development Plan”

Fourth Economy Prepares Economic Plan for Lebanon, PA

City-of-Lebanon-UpdateAfter several months of stakeholder engagement and data analysis, the City of Lebanon, Pennsylvania along with hundreds of regional stakeholders came together in May 2015 to release its new economic plan, Grow Lebanon 2020.  Fourth Economy was engaged to assist the City in the plan’s development, action agenda and public release event. Continue reading “Fourth Economy Prepares Economic Plan for Lebanon, PA”

Former Fourth Economy Client, Bedford County Planning, Advances “Pike2Bike” Plan

Pike-2-Bike-UpdateThis past April, Bedford County (PA) Planning Officials hosted one of several stakeholder tours of the decommissioned Rays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels – tunnels that formerly served as Pennsylvania Turnpike auto tunnels.  The vision now is to convert those tunnels to serve hikers and bikers as part of a regional trail network.  Continue reading “Former Fourth Economy Client, Bedford County Planning, Advances “Pike2Bike” Plan”

Energy and Beyond: Fargo-Moorhead Powers On

Fargo-EnergyThe Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota Metro Statistical Area (MSA) has received numerous accolades in recent years. Among them #2 overall among mid-sized metros by Area Development Leading Locations, #2 in Forbes Best Small Places for Business and Careers, #5 Milken Institute Best Performing Cities Index and #3 Fastest Growing Cities by NerdWallet.com. Continue reading “Energy and Beyond: Fargo-Moorhead Powers On”

Forget the Smokestacks…Chase the Housing: A Case Study in Smaller City Reinvention

141104-Small-TownIt has been a busy year here at Fourth Economy. Many projects have kept us hard at work, traveling across the country and meeting great folks. A theme among these projects has been a growing desire and recognition for all places, communities and towns to reinvent themselves – transform, reimagine, pivot – all in order to attract new investment and the talent that fuels it. And within this theme is a common recognition that without quality options to live, sleep and interact, it is tough to attract that talent. Housing and the context that surrounds a community’s housing stock is (or should be) a cornerstone to any competitive and sustainable economic development strategy. Continue reading “Forget the Smokestacks…Chase the Housing: A Case Study in Smaller City Reinvention”