Community planners launch economic initiative
Community and Economic Development Director Jim White speaks at last week's iCity launch event, which was held May 12 in the historic Moxham Bank Building in downtown Johnstown. (Brett Sholtis)
The initiative, named iCity, alludes to the popular Apple iPod and iPhone products. Renee Daly, the Economic Development Coordinator, hopes that the name will capture some of Apple's innovative spirit in this new push for revitalizing the city, and in particular, downtown.
"We're going to be using iCity as the tool to recreate Johnstown over the next ten years," she said during the launch event, which was held at the former Moxham Bank Building, one of many historic spaces available to prospective businesses.
Daly presented a vision of Johnstown's future as a city divided into five districts. Planned development includes a pedestrian boulevard connecting Point Stadium with Festival Park, a transformed Kernville that would link the Greater Johnstown Technology Park and the Johnstown Life Science Center with an urban park, and a planned river park and arts walk along Stonycreek.
Douglas Wendt played a key role in developing the iCity Web portal, which presents resources for investors and local businesses. He said Johnstown had many qualities that made it appealing to investors, describing it as independent, individual, inspired, innovative, intellectual and interconnected. He cited the advantages of business investment in a small city, and noted Johnstown's educational resources and its highway, rail, air and information infrastructure.
Jim White, the Director of Community & Economic Development, described his relationship with some of the local businesses that have found success in Johnstown, and presented an overview of the plan.
"We have a lot of vacant spaces," said White. "Now it is our job to fill these spaces with local businesses."
Speakers from local businesses included Matthew Sotosky, a managing partner at CJL engineering, Dr. Richard Somiari, the president and CEO of ITSI Biosciences, Mike Artim, the executive director of Cambria-Rowe Business College, and Dennis Stidinger, president of the EADS Group.
"We're proud to be in the city of Johnstown," said Artim. "We've had the opportunity to leave, and every time we look at it we decide that Johnstown is where we want to be."
Artim said that the biggest problem was dealing with people's lowered expectations of the city.
"At the end of the day, what really matters is the vision of Johnstown — of what the city could be."
For more information, go to www.icityjohnstown.com.