Ted Martin, deputy director of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, visited the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce office Friday afternoon to discuss downtown development.
“Our goal today is to have a conversation on what DCED does and what we would like to do in Greencastle and what other counties have done,” said Georgina Cranston, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.
Martin said the central Pennsylvania region is very diverse, having both urban and rural downtown areas.
“I salute small businesses, it’s hard to run a business,” said Martin. “We at DCED remain committed to communities to make sure that they have what is needed to keep communities vibrant and a great place to live.”
Topics discussed Friday included more community involvement to include businesses that are not on the Square, the formation of a downtown business council, promoting Greencastle’s easy on-and-off access to Interstate 81 and grants for beautifying the downtown area.
“I think it would be great to get everyone together to help each other out and bounce ideas back and forth,” said Louise Kemper, owner of Center of Balance LLC.
If the idea is to be pursued, Martin offered to bridge the communication gap to other communities with successful downtowns.
“We want our Greencastle downtown to be vibrant and thriving,” said Cranston. “The chamber is here to facilitate whatever we can.”
The conversation about forming a downtown business council was agreed upon and plans are in the works for 2019. A Jan. 11 meeting has been planned to discuss additional details.
“To make something like that happen you have to be all in to make it work, or you just watch it limp along as it doesn’t work,” Martin explained.
Kim Robinson, owner of 101 MarketPlace, shared her thoughts during Friday's meeting about neighboring towns.
“Waynesboro is our neighbor just up the road and we all watched where Waynesboro was going and where it is now,” said Robinson. “They have been revitalized and are taking great steps forward with the live music and the farmers market. We need to figure out how to do that.”
In response, Martin recommended finding what makes Greencastle “Greencastle” and promoting it, such as Old Home Week.
“We are all here for the community, this is a phenomenal community,” said Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. “I know it will take a lot money and time but we need to look at some goals and partnerships for this to grow.”