Fourth Economy Co-Founder to take CEO Position in Blair County, Pennsylvania

I would like to convey my great appreciation and affection for all of my Fourth Economy team, clients and community as I announce that I will be leaving the firm to take on the President and CEO position at the Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corporation in Blair County, Pennsylvania later this spring.

ABCD President and CEO Martin J. Marasco announced his retirement last month following a highly acclaimed and recognized 40-year tenure. Marty and ABCD have been consistently recognized as one the highest performing economic development organizations in Pennsylvania and throughout the mid-Atlantic region. This move represents a return home for me. I grew up in Blair County and “cut my teeth” in the economic development world working with ABCD from 2000 to 2007 as Director of Corporate Services and Government Affairs.

Times like these are truly bitter sweet as my family and I prepare for this new professional and personal phase of our life. Rich, Jerry and I have been together for almost 10 years working with communities across the country and building Fourth Economy into the firm it is today – a firm with a very strong national brand and an assembly of the best group of professionals any firm can offer. It has been more family than business to me, so while I am truly excited about this opportunity, it is tough to leave a group of great close friends and colleagues.

So as I move back to the practitioner side of things, a sincere thanks to all for making my tenure here at Fourth Economy so rewarding on every level. Between February 1 and April 1, I can be reached by email at stevejmcknight@gmail.com.

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!

Continue reading “What Do Craft Breweries Say About Your Community?”

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”

National Fourth Economy Community Index Lists Top 10 Mega-Sized Counties for 2015

141204-FECIndexFourth Economy Consulting announces the latest release of its national community index, listing top counties from across the nation. The Fourth Economy Index highlights those communities ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth within the fourth economy.

PITTSBURGH, PA – The latest release of the Fourth Economy Community Index (FEC Index, #FECIndex) was announced today listing the nation’s top ten mega-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities are recognized as the regions ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth among all regions with a population greater than 500,000 people.
Continue reading “National Fourth Economy Community Index Lists Top 10 Mega-Sized Counties for 2015”

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”