The Lancaster City Alliance wants to see $1 billion in private investment in the city over the next 15 years.
It’s one of the many goals — both specific and broad — of the economic development strategic plan the alliance put together to foster the city’s growth over the next 10-15 years.
The plan will be released to the public Thursday evening at the Ware Center.
Bob Shoemaker, Alliance president, and Marshall Snively, its executive vice president, talked with LNP’s editorial board about the year-long process on Thursday.
Some context for that $1 billion: Over the past seven years, Lancaster realized $1.5 billion in investment, but much of it was public money.
“We’re not going to see another convention center. We’re not going to see another ballpark,” Shoemaker said.
Housing, hotels and poverty
Other goals include:
• Create jobs that provide a livable wage.
• Have 300 new hotel rooms — beyond the planned 60-room Surveyor Hotel and 96-room Marriott expansion.
• See 2,500 additional residential units, both new and renovated existing stock, and which serve all income ranges.
• Increase per capita income to 70 percent of that of Pennsylvania’s state average. Currently, it’s about 58 percent, Shoemaker said.
While addressing poverty wasn’t directly in the project’s scope, the plan addresses issues that touch on poverty, such as affordable housing and employment opportunities, according to the plan’s executive summary.
“We see economic development as really key to this not just being a top-down program for bricks-and-sticks, but to really move economic development. Economic development for us, really, is about improving the quality of life,” he said.
The executive summary notes that the city’s poverty rate is near 25 percent; Shoemaker said it’s 40 percent south of King Street.
Engaging the community
Over the past year, the Alliance figured it engaged more than 1,000 people during three public meetings, stakeholder discussions, neighborhood meetings and focus groups.
“We’re calling this a community plan and we mean that,” Snively said.
As such, while the plan addresses the city’s downtown, it also looks at the city’s neighborhood commercial corridors: South Duke Street; South Queen and Prince streets, King Street; New Holland Avenue/East Walnut Street; and Manor Street, along with the northwest triangle/train station area.
Four focus areas
The plan has four focus areas:
• Expanding on the success of traditional economic development by creating an environment where the private sector wants to invest.
• Embracing the collaborative economy by cultivating entrepreneurs.
Snively said he and others working on the plan were surprised at how many entrepreneurs were working in the city. And the entrepreneurs themselves didn’t seem to know how big entrepreneurship was here.
• “Leveraging the brand” — marketing the city as a place to live and for its tourism.
• Quality of life issues, including reinforcing commercial hubs outside downtown.
“This is where it all starts. No one’s going to invest without making sure without having and environment where people feel comfortable, where people want to work, where people want to live, where people want to play,” Snively said.
“So this is really working with the communities to strengthen their neighborhoods, to strengthen their community organizations because really what we want this plan to be: It’s not to plan for communities, but to plan with communities.”
An example would be the Alliance’s partnership with Neighbors United.
Neighbors United, a neighborhood association in the city’s northeast, is raising money to bring the alliance’s red-shirted bike ambassador patrols, trash cans, trees and other improvements to a 20-block area in the neighborhood.
Now the work starts
With the completion of the plan, the real work starts, Snively and Shoemaker said.
“This is all pre-season,” Shoemaker said.
The Alliance contracted with Baltimore-based Mahan Rykiel Associates Inc. last May on the study.
The planning cost was about $210,000, Shoemaker said. Funders included The Steinman Foundation, $70,000; the city, $50,000; the Urban Land Institute, $40,000 and about 25 other organizations.
The plan will be shared during a presentation from 6:30-7:30 p.m. June 11 at Millersville University’s Ware Center, 42 North Prince St. Steinman Hall seats 350 people.
Persons interested in attending should respond to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday.