POTTSTOWN, Pa., Nov. 20, 2019—An Urban Land Institute advisory services panel made up of experts from around the nation visited Pottstown Oct. 20-25 to determine key areas of focus for improving life in the Borough and spurring community and economic development.
This was ULI’s fourth visit to Pottstown in the past five decades. Their previous studies—in 1976, 1989, and 2009—resulted in actions that bettered the borough, including designating historic districts, expanding Borough Hall, establishing the Montgomery County Community College West Campus, and developing recreational opportunities along the Schuylkill River. In all these instances, the Institute provided the Pottstown community an opportunity to work towards a common goal.
Pottstown area community members attend a ULI panel presentation.
A key part of ULI’s process was engaging with community leaders and stakeholders. To that end, dozens of community members were invited to the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s headquarters for small group discussions.
“People in Pottstown may have different jobs and different points of view, but we all have a love for this community that was clear in the interview process,” said Pottstown School District superintendent Stephen Rodriguez. “Even though we experience different challenges from different points of view, many of those challenges are connected. Schools are connected to businesses. Businesses are connected to residents. Residents are connected to schools, and so on.”
On their final day in town, members of the panel presented their initial findings to about 100 members of the community at The Steel River Playhouse. The panel offered insight into the information gathering process and defined the areas of focus for the final report.
“As a stakeholder in this community for the past 15 years, when I read the initial results, I was not only impressed but also encouraged by the clarity that the report brought to our next steps,” said Rodriguez.
The presentation’s main focal points were mission and cohesion, economic development, workforce, housing, catalytic projects, proactive marketing, and organizational capacity.
“It was great to have the ULI panel recognize how remarkable it is for a town our size to have so much going for itself. To have them see Pottstown as a hub for the larger geographic area is very encouraging,” said Foundation program officer Howard Brown. “I’m excited to see the community so engaged in the process and look forward to the detailed recommendations that will be provided in the full report.”
With “mission and cohesion” as the first of the panelists’ recommendations, community stakeholder discussions about the contents of the final report are in the works. The full report is expected to be delivered by the end of January.