- Amy Murdock, Director of Government Affairs, Erie Regional Chamber
On February 26, the Erie Regional Chamber hosted the region’s first State of the Community event.
The topic? Erie’s economic future and the need for continued alignment between the region’s public and private sectors. County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and City of Erie Mayor Joe Schember provided an overview of their vision for the administration in the coming year. The event also featured the launch of Erie’s White House Roadmap to Reinvestment – a plan designed to engage the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council and secure federal support for public projects that enable private investment.
The event was anchored by a panel discussion focused on Erie Forward and the importance of the business community and the role it plays in Erie’s future. Erie’s business and political leadership both want the same thing: economic opportunity for every resident and family that calls Erie home.
Erie Forward, led by the Chamber, is committed to an aggressive pursuit of economic development through innovative and strategic public-private alignment. The simple reality is that Erie needs strategic public and private-sector alignment in order to fully unlock the public funding streams necessary to build a better tomorrow for the region.
That better tomorrow will not come from hope alone.
A community that is truly committed to transformative change will use the entire range of public funding options available, including historic tax credits, new market tax credits, tax increment financing, and the Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) program. That said, those programs and incentives are not pots of money from which civic leaders and economic developers can freely use.
Historic tax credits, for example, help developers create new economic opportunity from old real estate. The developer must have a vision that aligns with the purpose of the specific tax credit. The same is true for most tax incentives and public finance programs. They do not cause private-sector investment.
Instead, public finance options can help the vision of would-be private-sector change agents become a reality. That’s economic development-speak for a simple concept: To build the best possible tomorrow for Erie, we all need to be on the same page.
To truly move Erie forward, the public and private sectors need to align and collaborate on a shared vision for our region’s future.
That vision can be found in Erie Forward. It formed the foundation of our State of the Community event—and serve as a blueprint for what the Chamber believes will be Erie’s best decade yet. We are proud to be the region’s designated economic development body, and we are proud to see public and private-sector leaders sitting around the same table, believing in Erie Forward, and creating partnerships that will unlock the public-sector finance opportunities that can fund our community’s goals and aspirations.
For years, Erie has heard a better tomorrow is just around the corner. But better tomorrows don’t just happen.
A better tomorrow is never an accident. A single better tomorrow is the result of years of cooperation, collaboration, and hard, thankless work.
A better tomorrow is also never found at the end of a smooth path. There will be bumps along the way. There will be days when it seems like tomorrow is weeks or months away—and that was once the reality of our region.
For years, tomorrow was always a long way away.
Times have begun to change, and that change started because our private and public-sector leaders align behind a common goal and a shared plan. Over the past two years, we’ve begun to see incredible alignment across sectors.
Erie is finally positioned to move forward. On Wednesday, regional leadership across sectors, industries, and institutions gathered to strengthen that alignment and get even closer to the tomorrow Erie deserves. The real work has just begun and we couldn’t be more excited for our community. Our best is yet to come.