the long view: norristown reborn? (24 june 2014)

Norristown Reborn?
Dr. Walter Greason
Norristown Times Herald
24 June 2014

Norristown’s local officials are taking substantial action to bring new businesses to the area.  Despite vocal complaints about new firms growing in surrounding communities, the council has begun to break longstanding patterns of missed opportunities and faulty development deals with efforts like “Five Saints Distilling” and the “Courthouse Square.”  Leadership finally recognizes the diamonds of entrepreneurship among the local residents.

Young professionals like the Norristown Men of Excellence have been central to the changing atmosphere.  By organizing events that energize their neighbors, a new sense of confidence and empowerment emerges that rises organically from individual hopes and dreams. Instead of the persistent cynicism and judgment that rejected the possibility of new wealth in the community, young people are finding new ways to express their creativity and bring value to their neighborhoods.

So what are the next steps forward?  These initiatives need expanded funding sources and a broader range of income streams. It is essential that the new enterprises in Norristown connect to broader, regional projects like World-Class Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. Constant discussion with influential politicians in all of the adjacent counties can also restore the town’s historic leadership role.

If local residents can build a surge of new businesses to better serve the global economy, billions of dollars in new revenue will flow into the community. These resources will transform the school system, rebuild the aging infrastructure, and maintain the social safety net for the elderly and infirm.  Most of all, local residents can provide a dramatic increase in the regional employment rate, especially in conjunction with other working families in Bensalem, Pottstown, Reading, and Coatesville.

A Norristown reborn is a Norristown dedicated to local, small businesses. Who will be the first to take advantage of the new opportunities?

Dr. Walter Greason is the ChiefExecutive Officer of the International Center for Metropolitan Growth(www.icmetrogrowth.com) and the author of Suburban Erasure: How the SuburbsEnded the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey.  His work is available onLinkedIn, Twitter (@worldprofessor1/@icmgrowth), Facebook, and by email(wgreason@monmouth.edu).

Creating a thriving Main Street is essential.Creating a thriving Main Street is essential.

Author: waltergreason1

Public Figure.

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