Last week, I attended the CityAge conference in Rochester, New York. The gathering brought together leaders from sectors including industry, government, academia, and the arts to develop an understanding of emerging opportunities for investment in upstate New York and across the Rust Belt. As we are aware, the challenges we face in the Erie Region are not unique. The resources that other communities are harnessing to address them have parallels to those in our own asset-rich region. Sitting side-by-side with about 200 people–many of whom had travelled from around the country–and listening to stories of the achievements of Rochester and other similar communities, I was struck again and again by similarities to what is occurring in Erie County.
Grassroots efforts to promote entrepreneurship? Development of cross-sector sustainable solutions to intergenerational poverty? Anchor institutions working in support of neighborhood revitalization? Industry and education partners coming together around the shared goal of smoothing the transition from school into the workplace? Creative use of the arts in community development?
Initiatives similar to those which were celebrated at the Rochester conference are happening right now in Erie County and in the City of Erie, a community that has less than half the population of Rochester. Remarks by Ed Pawlowski, Mayor of Allentown, resonated most strongly when he pointed out that in communities like his (and ours) we must be vigilant to remind ourselves as well as outsiders of our successes because there is a tendency toward a community-wide inferiority complex.
As we highlighted last month at the May 9th Emerge 2040 community meeting, organizations from all corners of Erie County are implementing the community’s goals as outlined in the Destination Erie plan. We heard from participants that they were excited to learn about so many initiatives going on in the community, and they appreciated hearing these stories directly from those involved in the work. (You can view the presentation online here).
Creating a space for the Erie region to tell its own story of progress is one goal behind this new Emerge 2040 blog. Our community achieved something remarkable last spring in creating the Destination Erie plan, following three years of work by thousands of people from throughout Erie County. Yet as we know, the more difficult work lies in the implementation of the plan. As we continue to work toward the community’s goals, we wanted to establish a forum for members of the Erie community to share what they are working on and how that work aligns with the vision of a thriving, educated, green, livable and connected region. We hope that people will use the blog to celebrate successes, as well as to share stories of work in progress. We need to learn from each other and take risks in order to create the Erie region of tomorrow.
As we collectively move forward with the implementation of Erie County’s 25 year plan, I want to hear from you.
Do you have a story to tell about how you or your organization is working in alignment with the Emerge 2040 recommendations? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how you would like to contribute to this blog.
Anna Frantz is the Executive Director of Emerge 2040.