The first half of 2020 feels like the beginning of a horror movie so scary you have to leave long before the credits roll—but beneath its Freddy Krueger exterior, the troubled beginning of a brand-new decade has also revealed an opportunity to build a new and better world.
Our future will not be defined by modifications to the world we knew before spring 2020. Our future will be defined by our ability to build something entirely different. It’s creating a more resilient healthcare system in a globalized world. It’s truly diving into racial equity issues so that huge portions of our cities, region, and nation feel engaged and integrated – not expendable. It’s rebuilding an economic development system that empowers people to exert measured control over business and their future.
Erie is embracing this moment with hope for the future, deeply rooted in its legacy of perseverance and grit. Earlier on, Erie emerged as a leader in Opportunity Zones with a portfolio guided by principles to ensure socially impactful projects are at the forefront of the community’s revitalization.
Erie’s civic leaders, business visionaries, and economic developers see the events of the last few months as yet another opportunity for this community on the rise. Building an entirely new world in an era of pandemics and economic downturns will require the builders of that world to work their magic on a shoestring budget. Communities face the simultaneous need to implement systemic change and the reality that there aren’t as many resources to do that as there were just a few months ago. Throwing money at a problem can be an effective strategy—when you have money to throw. It’s much harder when every dollar counts. The innovators and entrepreneurs who will build our new world need to stretch their dollars as far as they will go.
And a dollar can go a lot further in Erie that it can almost anywhere else.
If you want to build a company that will show the world how equity and inclusion can be a competitive advantage, Erie welcomes you with a network of supporters and investors ready to help launch your vision. If you want to roll up your sleeves and get involved in a school district striving to create more equitable outcomes for all students, Erie Public Schools is waiting for you. If you want to come to a community where you can immediately make a difference—where you truly can be the change you wish to see—Erie is a community like no other.
In an age where the appeal of densely packed urban areas may decline because of pandemic concerns, Erie can become the model of a community where dreamers and builders can create a local economy that works for everyone. The list of people that have moved here, made their mark, and made Erie better is growing by the day.
Erie is done being defined by our past. Erie will be defined by our collective future.
We will define ourselves by the value we can provide to people who want to channel the anger, frustration, and fear we all feel into something positive.
Building a better world is never easy—but it has to start somewhere, and (frankly) it is much easier to do that when you aren’t spending all of your resources on expensive office locations and million-dollar mortgages. The promise of Erie’s next economy has always focused on low costs and high value. Our civic and business leaders have spent the past several years making the case that it is easier to start a business in Erie than it is to start a business on the coasts.
The events of the last several months have made that argument more than just a marketing pitch.
Our world has changed. We need leaders, and those leaders need a high-value, low-cost community.
And there is no better high-value, low-cost community—and no better place to reimagine a better world—than Erie, PA.