New Report Highlights Three Resilient Pennsylvania Communities

Johnstown, PA
Erie’s Bayfront

As Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), I have the distinct privilege to travel the state and meet people from all industries and walks of life. In addition to our legendary can-do spirit and incredible work ethic, we possess a relentless commitment to making our communities the best they can be. We all share a unique passion to make the Keystone State a place where everyone can work smart and live happy.

This is why I’m excited to share with you the first edition of Work Smart. Live Happy. A Pennsylvania Story. Our new publication is focused on three of our cities in different locations around the state, and their unique approaches to addressing their individual, local challenges. It’s a story of passionate leaders, shared visions, and collaboration between stakeholders from across the public and private sectors.

These three diverse communities are likely known to you already; here, you will find them armed with fresh narratives that might reframe your perception, and paint a more complex portrait of their communities, goals, and spirit of change: Bethlehem in the Lehigh Valley, Erie in the Northwest, and Johnstown in the Southern Alleghenies. Each one of these communities has taken great strides in reimagining, redeveloping, and revitalizing the place in which they live and work.


With assistance from DCED’s Neighborhood Partnership Program, the driving force of Bethlehem’s revitalization is the Southside Vision plan. A major part of the plan was transforming the city’s old steel blast furnaces into the backdrop for the arts and cultural hub, ArtsQuest. The SteelStacks campus is dedicated to economic development, urban revitalization, and community enrichment through a variety of arts, cultural, and educational programs.


Erie is truly a symbol of how collaboration produces results. Government officials and business, institutional, and cultural leaders have created a unified vision for the city, which builds on the community’s post-industrial job growth and the region’s natural assets. Erie’s location on the Great Lakes offers great opportunities to live happy, and the city is poised to use it to their advantage.

DCED’s Neighborhood Assistance Program has enabled the city to invest in educational and community services, crime prevention, and blight remediation. Most recently, an unprecedented interagency collaboration involving five state agencies is propelling ongoing revitalization efforts at the Erie Bayfront, providing more than $32 million in funding to connect the downtown area with the waterfront.


A few years ago, Johnstown’s most passionate leaders came together to create a framework for revitalizing Greater Johnstown. This group commissioned Carnegie Mellon University’s Remaking Cities Institute to construct a plan, and Vision 2025 was born. With an open, collaborative, and community-driven approach, this plan has created circle teams that tackle various projects throughout the region.

DCED has partnered with Johnstown by awarding grants from the Keystone Communities, Industrial Sites Reuse, and Neighborhood Assistance Programs to support the ongoing efforts in the community.

This is just a snapshot of the cities’ stories, so I encourage you to read the full publication. I hope you will find the efforts of Bethlehem, Erie, and Johnstown to be a source of inspiration that will leave you with an appreciation of what hard work, collaboration, and a vision can do for economic and community development.

DCED looks forward to our continued partnership with these three communities, and so many others across the state, as they continue on their unique journeys towards revitalization.

Read the full report on the DCED website and discover more about our community revitalization efforts. Follow DCED on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for up-to-date news on community and business development across the state. Want to help share positive PA news? Become a Keystone Ally.


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