My Department (in City government) has planning, community development, block grants, economic development, and historic preservation under its purview. We also have had student interns over the years, and I must tell you that one of our best interns ever, Russell Turnquist, is in the audience here today.
But let me respond in two ways to what was said today concerning the Soutwest and Southeast sections of the City. I don’t want to let the fact go by that this city, with its partners--and that’s state partners, federal partners, and local partners--is really addressing the poverty and unemployment in the Southwest part of the city. We’re in the midst of a brown-fields clean-up, done through the acquisition of a large scrap-yard, the old Iron Works. And we have begun to create an industrial park. The companies that have agreed to come in there are twofold. One will create 140 jobs coming in from the suburbs, but they’ve also agreed to create a new manufacturing section in their company which would then require them--to our benefit-- to hire employees, and they’ve agreed to target at least 60% of those new hires from the city population, which I think is commendable. Other companies have also agreed to move in there: a wood working company, a glass studio, and other companies. Now, with all of this in place, we need to be thinking strategically. This is where the Center comes in, because we need to envision some neighborhood development strategies for that area.
Now let me go back. The reason we work in certain areas of the city is the economic agenda that came out of the LDR study of the Lancaster campaign (Bert Winterbottom, "An Economic Development Agenda For Lancaster."). That is an agenda that we try to follow--all the partners try to follow. The South-East is one of those target areas, and that’s why the industrial park is there—and that is where the brown fields situation was drastic. One particular element of that development is the creation of jobs—by the way, the new CAP headquarters does pay taxes, because it’s a long-term lease developer that did the job, and CAP long-term leases the building from that developer; and that’s a way to build the tax base in the city along with job creation. So, let’s look at neighborhood development—because, really, economic development is wealth creation that comes down to residents. I think we need to get at this vision of a neighborhood development with a strategy for the Southeast area, or any area of the city that we can define as a neighborhood. And it is the combination of living, working, and shopping, that really defines a neighborhood, even as there are manmade divisions, and also other divisions, that define a neighborhood. The examples that I’m thinking of come from larger cities. So Lancaster may really have only one neighborhood or maybe two compared to the greater number of neighborhoods in a larger city, with a much greater land area and population.
What would a neighborhood development strategy need to look at? It would need to look at the question of loss of buying power and goods-purchasing from the neighborhood flow. It also needs to look at the leveraging of investments that could be put into those neighborhoods--and the industrial park, which is a keystone opportunity throughout the commonwealth of PA is one of those leveraging opportunities. There was a mention, earlier, of the idea of a multiplier, which refers to how dollars, once invested in a neighborhood, can become recycled on housing, and other goods and services within the community. So all of that needs to be addressed in a study that could be done for the Southeast part of the city. We need to do economic surveys and analyses in order to understand our neighborhood economy. It’s also important to create a market profile for our demographic economic consumer profile, to catalog the base of proprietary local business experience, and to determine the level of below-the-radar cash investment in the neighborhoods.
Let me just finish up by saying that there are both private and public source of funds that can be used for this type of a study. Such a study can provide us with some answers to questions like: how much buying power do you have in your neighborhood? How much of a leakage of buying power is there from a neighborhood? And will the neighborhood support additional commercial development?
If such a neighborhood study could be done, that would be of great benefit to the city--not to the government, but to the city residents; to try to do a defined survey on the neighborhood, and possibly use the Sotheast area as an example, because there are jobs coming in there; to try to find out if there is a multiplier factor with the ability to capture the buying power of the people who live and work there. That would be the goal. Thank you very much.