Dear Downtown Partners,
I began my new role as CEO of Downtown Inc on October 17. After nearly 15 years living and working away from York County—in Philadelphia and Allentown—it is great to return to the city where many of my childhood memories played out. I remember elementary school field trips to the Golden Plough Tavern, pre-Homecoming dinners at the Left Bank, trips to York College to visit the young woman who would become my wife, my sister’s wedding at the York Heritage Trust, and reuniting with friends at—where else?—Cobblestones.
During those 15 years, York has changed dramatically. As I made several visits to York during my interview process, I was repeatedly struck by both the vitality of the city and the astonishing level of new investment, especially in housing for new city residents attracted by the emerging culture of arts, food, and diverse retail that seemed to be missing from York in the past. I was also encouraged by the transformational projects that seem tantalizingly close to reality, including redeveloping the Yorktowne Hotel, fully connecting the Heritage Rail Trail, developing the Northwest Triangle, and finding opportunities to transform the Codorus Creek’s waterfront into a true asset for the city.
In the coming months, you will hear more about Downtown Inc’s new strategic plan, which will renew our focus on the nuts and bolts of revitalization, while expanding our capacity to drive, enhance, and encourage investment in Downtown York. Our downtown is clearly approaching a watershed moment. We have an opportunity to continue our momentum towards making York a statewide—even national—model for success. Compared to the dozens of Pennsylvania’s communities in which I have worked, I believe we are already well on the way. However, fully achieving that goal and sustaining it over the long term will require strengthening our partnerships between the public and private sectors—bringing state and city government, merchants, corporations, and individuals together to leverage our resources for the collective interest of downtown.
As we set our sights on becoming a national model, we also need to ensure the downtown we create serves the needs of all of York’s residents. Our business community should reflect and celebrate our city’s wonderful diversity and provide the services that many of our residents desperately need, from access to fresh food and groceries to affordable, high quality housing. At the same time, we need to look beyond our city’s borders to recognize that we are also York County’s downtown. We are the cultural and economic center of this region, and our success is crucial to the quality of life of suburban and rural residents of the county. We need to find creative and effective ways to share that message well beyond York.
In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to getting to know York all over again, sampling some of our amazing food and craft beer, and hopefully meeting many of you. In the meantime, if you need anything from me, please do not hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.