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/

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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

Superintendent’s Resignation Stuns Pottstown School Board

Editor’s note:  I am unfortunately not surprised by this.  I am guessing this is just another person who is tired of banging his/her head against “the proverbial wall” trying to make things better for Pottstown.  The assembly flap might have been the last straw but there is more to this than just one incident. 

Maybe it’s the constant barrage of criticism being lobbed by the Fishwrap at community leaders that helps push them out of town.  People like Jason Bobst and Reed Lindley always have other options.  After a while, no matter how good someone’s intentions are, people reach a saturation point and “walk away” to save what’s left of their sanity.

It’s a vicious cycle in Pottstown.  My condolences to the new Borough Manager and Superintendent of Schools.

POTTSTOWN, PA — Reed Lindley stunned the school board and the community Thursday night by resigning as superintendent, effective immediately.

Lindley, who was not present for the regular board meeting, submitted his letter of resignation to the board, citing only “personal reasons” for his decision.

Following a 30-minute, closed-door executive session at the opening of the meeting, a somber-faced school board returned to the meeting room and unanimously accepted his resignation.

The resignation comes on the heels of community outrage over a three-hour assembly at Pottstown High School in which a speaker extolling the virtues of entrepreneurship also challenged students to sell coffee to compete for an iPad.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120921/NEWS01/120929898/reed-lindley-resigns-as-pottstown-schools-superintendent&pager=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 (PAID) Meeting, Thursday, April 28th

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

If you have followed the transition of the Pottstown Area Industrial Development  (PAID) organization into the borough’s economic development engine then you should attend a public meeting at the Hill School Library, Thursday, April 28th at 6 p.m.  The new board of directors will be introduced.

This is an important vehicle that will hopefully enable Pottstown to speak with a unified voice when presenting economic development goals and strategies.  Having a consensus will help the borough receive grant money for projects.

Jason Bobst, Pottstown Borough Manager, will be the first President of the Board of Directors.  The office of president will rotate every year between the borough, the school district and the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority.

The first year is crucial because the new Executive Director will be hired.  This person will be the point of contact and run the day-to-day operations of PAID.

The ULI recommendations will be used as a blue print for economic development by PAID’s Executive Director and the Board of Directors.