Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) Is On The Move!

180933_10150092018677029_7436728_nLike the little engine that could, Sheila Dugan has taken the throttle of the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) and is chugging uphill toward her vision of a revitalized central business district.

Unlike Main Street Managers in the past, this dynamo hit the ground running and is pulling PDIDA into the 21st century at warp speed.  The PDIDA board has been reorganized, assessments are being collected, activities are being scheduled and a new cooperation is being fostered between PDIDA, borough hall, PAID, the TriCounty Community Network and other entities in Pottstown.

Sheila actually lives in Pottstown, is a downtown business owner (she and her husband own Grumpy’s) and her children attend the Pottstown School District.  Sheila is INVESTED in Pottstown (a missing component in past Main Street Managers).

The perception of business owners in the downtown, by the general public, is poor.  Sheila is trying to raise awareness that most businesses downtown are Mom and Pop operations.  In many cases, one owner, one employee.  Trying to “do it all” six days a week from open to close does not leave much time for people to attend PDIDA meetings (or much of anything else).

To combat the time problem, Sheila has come up with an innovative solution – block captains.  The block captains will talk with their assigned business owners and attend the meetings to speak for the group they represent.  The block captains will then convey the meeting results back to their group.  Email is also being used to keep PDIDA members updated, in addition to block captains and meetings.

Sheila has been working closely with the Pottstown Police Department and Borough Manager Mark Flanders toward a solution for the vagrant problem downtown.  Sheila said Mark Flanders and the Pottstown Police Department have been extremely helpful and cooperative in working toward a solution for this problem.  You will see more police officers downtown walking a beat along with other measures that are aimed at making the downtown clean, safe and a welcoming atmosphere for shoppers, arts and restaurant patrons.

PDIDA is also working with the numerous social services agencies in Pottstown.  These agencies will also play a role in managing the homeless and idle population that have been congregating downtown and hampering revitalization efforts.

Sheila works hand-in-hand with Pottstown Area Industrial Director Executive Director Steve Bamford to help market Pottstown and fill empty store fronts with new businesses.  She said Steve Bamford has been great to work with.  Marketing Pottstown is not an easy job.

Another important cooperative effort taking place is between the Pottstown Codes Department and PDIDA.  Every building within the PDIDA zone is being reviewed and code violations are being identified where they exist.  Clean and safe buildings are certainly more appealing to consumers!

Like many organizations, PDIDA has lost a large percentage of its funding.  Sheila said individual and corporate sponsors are desperately needed as well as volunteers.  For example, the PDIDA office downtown needs volunteers to help staff the office.  Sheila is also working on fundraising efforts and is applying for grants to help fund events and projects.

While we are on the subject of funding and budgets, Sheila is Pottstown’s official Main Street Manager but receives only a fraction of the salary the former managers were paid.  This is due to the loss of funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the Main Street Program.  Pottstown is fortunate to have someone willing to take on this herculean task, put in the time, do the hard work and get results on a shoestring budget.

One last thing before I give you a list of upcoming events downtown.  A while ago, one of my readers asked me if the façade program was still in existence.  I emailed the former Main Street Manager, identified myself and posed my reader’s question.  I never received the courtesy of a reply.  I asked Sheila about this during our conversation and she told me that the façade program does indeed still exist and there is still money available.

Some exciting PDIDA events to look forward to include:

June 8 – 2nd Annual Iron Horse, motorcycle show

June 20 – Rumble Downtown (includes Misty May-Treanor and live music).

July 20 – 2nd Annual Sidewalk Sale

October 12 – 6th Annual Riverfest – PDIDA is taking on this event and adding an evening component from 6pm – 8pm which will include live bands, artists, beer garden, a Bike/Art event and a TriPAC show at 8pm. Downtown restaurants will be participating.

Sheila said she is always looking for participants, live music, artists and street performers for PDIDA events.  I will again put in a plug for individual and corporate sponsors.

The Pottstown Visitors Center aka the PDIDA office is located at 17 North Hanover Street in downtown Pottstown.  The phone number is (610) 323-5400.  Sheila Dugan is the Main Street Manager and her direct line is (484) 948-6061.  The website is http://downtownpottstown.org/

Pottstown Welcomes 2 New Businesses, 50 Jobs

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Thumbs up to Steve Bamford!

POTTSTOWN — Following on the heels of the news that downtown Pottstown will lose as many as 75 jobs in the coming months, comes the news that the borough may be gaining as many as 58 jobs at two new businesses soon to be break ground.

The news came Wednesday night when borough council heard about two proposals for two new businesses that want to put up new buildings in the borough.

One, known as Patient First, is part of a chain of 43 urgent care medical centers that has been in business for 43 years and promises to bring 50 jobs into the borough.

“We’re looking to hire locally,” said Carl Wright, founder and president of  The Wright Group, which will construct the building at the site of the former Chinese food restaurant across the parking lot from Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Just Cabinets.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130404/NEWS01/130409614/pottstown-welcomes-2-new-businesses-50-jobs#full_story

Obamacare Regs Force Medical Business Out Of Downtown Pottstown

Editor’s note:  This sucks!

POTTSTOWN — A medical equipment supply business that has been quietly thriving in downtown Pottstown is set to move the bulk of its operation to Oaks this spring, taking as many as 75 jobs with it.

Royal Medical Supply’s 34 E. High St. location will remain open and return it to its original purpose, a showroom, said Roy Repko, who founded the company in Royersford in 1984 with his father-in-law and brother-in-law.

Even as late as the 1990s, the majority of its business was comprised of referrals from Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, Phoenixville Hospital and the Pottstown Area Visiting Nurse Association.

But now it’s the big providers: Medicaid, Medicare, Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna and United Health Care.

 

Pottstown School Board Approves Keystone Tax Break For New Business

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  See what happens when we are all on the same page!  This sends a positive signal to the investment community that Pottstown is “OPEN FOR BUSINESS”.   This needs to happen more often.  Two Thumbs Up to all involved!

POTTSTOWN — With a 7-2 vote Monday night, the Pottstown School Board endorsed a property tax break for a business that wants to re-locate to the former 84 Lumber truss plant on Keystone Boulevard.

School board members Polly Weand and Andrew Kefer cast the only votes against endorsing the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax exemption for Conshohocken-based Heritage Coach Co., which sells hearses and limousines.

The vote comes just three days after state Rep. Mark Painter, D-146th Dist., announced his support for the tax break.

Under the terms of the deal negotiated by Schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana and Borough Manager Mark Flanders, Heritage would pay no property taxes in the first three years of the 10-year deal.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130326/NEWS01/130329480/pottstown-school-board-approves-tax-break-for-new-business

Pottstown School Board Urged To Approve KOZ Deal

Editor’s note:  We agree!

The Pottstown School Board is set to vote tonight on a tax break deal that would bring a new business to the Keystone Opportunity Zone.

Pottstown Borough Council has approved the tax break, but if the school board votes no, the plan is nixed.

The three boards that levy property tax — council, school board and county commissioners — must all approve it for the business to relocate to Pottstown.  Montgomery County Commissioners have said they will go along with whatever the two local governing bodies decide.

As with council, we urge the school board to vote yes to this proposal as an incentive to business and as a smart move in the longer view of the borough economic development.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130325/OPINION01/130329656/pottstown-school-board-urged-to-approve-koz-deal-#full_story

Pottstown, West Pottsgrove Push Extension Of Keystone Boulevard

POTTSTOWN — Just two days after borough council approved a property tax break for a new business proposed along Keystone Boulevard, officials from the borough and West Pottsgrove Township met to brainstorm about extending the road to the Grosstown Road exit off Route 422.

The extension of Keystone Boulevard through the former Flagg Brass property in West Pottsgrove and over to the Stowe interchange has long been envisioned and was the subject of an $81,000 study by the Rettew Assoc. engineering firm.

Paid for through a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the grant brought both municipalities together to plan jointly for the project, which could cost as much as $10 million.

Although PennDOT does have plans for a $30 million improvement to the Stowe interchange as part of its long-range plans for upgrading Route 422, Brian Regli, Montgomery County’s Director of Commerce, told the assembled officials not to expect the state to come up with the money for that project any time soon.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130315/NEWS01/130319529/pottstown-w-pottsgrove-push-extension-of-keystone-blvd-#full_story

Pottstown Council OKs Business Tax Break With 4-3 Vote

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — With a 4-3 vote, borough council Monday night approved a tax-abatement incentive for a hearse and limousine business seeking to take over the vacant former 84 Lumber building at 451 Keystone Blvd.

Councilmen Dan Weand, Travis Gery and Joe Kirkland voted against extending the Keystone Opportunity Zone property tax break, while it was supported by Council President Stephen Toroney, vice president Jeff Chomnuk and council members Mark Gibson and Carol Kulp.

The matter now moves to the school board, which oversees a much larger slice of the borough’s tax burden and stands to sacrifice substantially more money under the proposed agreement.  It is expected to vote on the matter at its March 25 meeting.

The Montgomery County Commissioners, who must also approve the deal, have indicated they will approve it as long as the borough and the school district do, according to Steve Bamford, Pottstown’s chief economic development officer and an advocate for the deal council approved.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130311/NEWS01/130319844/pottstown-council-oks-business-tax-break-with-4-3-vote#full_story

Pottstown Joint Meeting Wrestles With Jobs Versus Lost Tax Dollars

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — During the first joint meeting of the year between borough council and the Pottstown School Board, discussion was free-flowing and frequent.

Perhaps highest on the list, and the subject which generated the most focused conversation, had to do with a business that wants to occupy the former 84 Lumber truss plant at the end of Keystone Boulevard.

Steve Bamford, the director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development Inc. and the borough’s chief economic development officer, gave for the third time, an overview of the Keystone Opportunity Zone program and the request from Heritage Coach Co. to occupy some of the space there.

Sellers of hearses and limousines, Heritage began as a side business for the Lankford family, which also operated a GM dealership in Conshohocken that was shut down during what Jay Lankford, a Hill School graduate, called GM’s “political sham of a bankruptcy.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130228/NEWS01/130229383/pottstown-joint-meeting-wrestles-with-jobs-vs-lost-tax-dollars#full_story

Pottstown Meeting Set To Boost Borough-School District Cooperation

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Considering the same 5 square miles comprises the school district and the borough, this is well overdue.  However, on a positive note, we will hope this leads to substantive change for the beleaguered Pottstown taxpayer.

POTTSTOWN — It won’t just be the location of the joint school board/borough council meeting Tuesday that is unusual.

The agenda is short, unusual in itself, and further, it is focused almost exclusively on breaking down barriers to cooperation.

“We want to set the stage for collaborating, for open communication,” said schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana who, along with Borough Manager Mark Flanders, met with The Mercury Thursday to outline their efforts.

“That’s one of the reasons we wanted to have the meeting off-site,” said Flanders. “To put everyone in a setting that encourages participation and interaction.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130225/NEWS01/130229649/pottstown-meeting-set-to-boost-borough-school-district-cooperation#full_story

Montco Commissioners Tell Pottstown The Era Of The “Big Check” Is Over

Editor’s note:  What else is new.  The county is over involved in Pottstown‘s affairs and has helped to create a great deal of the problems Pottstown and Norristown both face by making them the dumping group for Section 8 Housing and social services.  Now we just wash our hands and say “see ya”.  Typical!

POTTSTOWN, Pa. — Say goodbye to the big, giant check.

That was one of several messages Montgomery County Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards had for Pottstown officials last week during a rare joint meeting of borough council, school board and members of the board of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, or PAID.

Officially, the joint meeting was also the required annual meeting of PAID at which the executive director, Steve Bamford, is required to give a report on the activities of the year before.

But since Bamford was not hired until November, there was not much to tell.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120529/NEWS01/120529365/montco-commissioners-tell-pottstown-era-of-the-big-check-is-over-(video)

New PAID Director Relishes Challenge Of Urban Economic Development

Editor’s note:  90 days into a new job and he scores!  Color me impressed!

POTTSTOWN, Pa. - When your job is to try to attract businesses to a particular place, having a sense of place is pretty important.

So it´s probably a good thing that Steve Bamford has a boatload of real estate experience to call upon in his role as executive director of the Pottstown Area Industrial Development, also known as PAID Inc.

More than two years ago, the Urban Land Institute recommended, among other things, that economic development be taken out of the hands of the politicians and put into the hands of a professional staff. The result was a re-imagining of the largely moribund PAID organization into an active economic development arm with a responsibility sharing agreement between the borough, the school district and the Montgomery Redevelopment Authority.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-mercury/story/new-paid-director-relishes-challenge-urban-economic-development/1

POTTSTOWN AREA INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT, INC. ANNOUNCES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HIRE

POTTSTOWN, PA, NOVEMBER 2, 2011: Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. (PAID) has announced the appointment of Steven Bamford as its new Executive Director. Bamford’s first day will be November 10, 2011.

A resident of Lansdale, Bamford has over 20 years of economic development experience in local government as well as the private sector – since February 2010, he has been Co-Owner/Vice President of TCB Marketing, a results-oriented marketing, media and management consulting firm.

Additionally, Bamford served as a Manager, then Senior Manager, at Ernst and Young from 2002 to 2010. At Ernst and Young, Bamford was responsible for assisting Fortune 1000 and middle market clients making investment and location decisions in the US and abroad by identifying, negotiating and securing incentives from federal, state and local governments.

Prior to his private sector experience, Bamford worked in various positions in the public sector. From 1997 to 2002, Bamford held dual roles as the Vice President of Operations with the Allentown Economic Development Corporation and served as the Executive Director of the Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority. In this capacity, Bamford managed the day-to-day operations of these organizations and their real estate redevelopment projects serving as “developer of last resort” for the most challenging, underutilized and functionally obsolete properties. Bamford also assisted businesses and developers in determining feasibility, site selection, and obtaining funding for projects. Some of these projects included the Bridgeworks, Portland Place, Plaza at PPL Center and Lehigh Landing.

From 1993 to 1996, Bamford served as the Vice President for Special Projects with the New Castle County (DE) Economic Development Corporation where he assisted with site selection and provided support for companies seeking incentives, zoning or development plan approval for projects. Also, Bamford served as the Economic Development Specialist for the City of Reading from 1991-1993 where he performed financial analysis, evaluated development and operating budgets and made funding recommendations to City Council on requests from businesses and developers for assistance through the City’s revolving loan fund.

“Steve’s experience, energy and mix of public sector and private sector experience will be a positive impact to the Borough of Pottstown” said Jason Bobst, President of the Board of Directors.

“We were especially impressed with Steve’s research into the Economic Development Strategic Plan and the most recent Urban Land Institute Advisory Panel Service Plan of 2009. He presented a possible entry plan into this new position from the priorities listed in these documents” added Reed Lindley, Superintendent of the Pottstown School District.

Bamford becomes the first Executive Director of PAID, Inc. since its re-birth as part of the Urban Land Institute Advisory Panel Service Plan recommendation for a single-source entity for economic development in the Borough of Pottstown.

Bamford received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics & Business Administration from Ursinus College and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Delaware.

PAID, Inc. selected Bamford from a field of 37 applicants.

Editor’s comments:  We thank Jason Bobst and the rest of the PAID Board for their hard work in selecting a qualified candidate to help move Pottstown forward.  We are impressed with Mr. Bamford’s credentials.  Mr. Bamford appears to have the skill sets and leadership qualities that will be needed for the Herculean task of leading Pottstown to greener economic pastures.

We welcome Mr. Bamford to Pottstown and wish him much success.  We hope a new era of cooperation and collaboration will unfold in Pottstown that will enable Mr. Bamford to be all he can be in this position.  He CANNOT do it alone!  This means Mr. Bamford needs our full cooperation and support.