Group plans to transform the county

Success Together aims to unite Mifflin County

LEWISTOWN — A new program to unite the county through common goals was launched on Thursday during a meeting at the Mifflin County Courthouse annex.

“Success Together: Our Opportunity For A Brighter Future” attracted many to the meeting, including elected officials, nonprofit leaders, business leaders, educators, medical industry personnel and private citizens.

The Project Director is Kay Hamilton, the former CEO of Geisinger Lewistown Hospital.

“Our challenge, in short, is to seize control of our own destiny,” Mifflin County Commissioner Steve Dunkle said. “We have to establish short and long term goals.”

The project goal, as listed in the material provided to those participating is “to develop, operationalize a comprehensive, strategic plan for Mifflin County that addresses the project’s major objectives and that includes measurable outcomes.”

Mifflin County Commissioner Kevin Kodish said this is our chance to make a difference.

“Lets make it count,” he added.

There were several guest speakers including Larry Newman, who chairs the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, an organization that has worked closely with Downtown Lewistown Inc. on its revitalization efforts in the borough.

“You are proactively planning your future,” Newman said.

Newman explained how economic changes have shifted development, from chasing smoke stacks to quality of place.

“You need a clearly articulated vision that is shared with the community,” he advised.

Newman talked at length about his hometown of Wilkes-Barre and how the city slid downhill until the turn of the century. Over the last seventeen years, however, the city has experienced a boost, through the cooperative efforts of like minded individuals and groups. Younger people are staying in the city and new businesses in the downtown area have become an economic engine for Wilkes-Barre.

“Build upon your own unique assets,” Newman said.

Newman also cautioned the group not to look for a “silver bullet” to solve all their problems, but instead take a “holistic approach.”

Newman said that often times successful community revitalization is slow, deliberate and methodical, but in the long run this approach is more sustainable.

LeRoy D. Kline Jr., president and CEO of Delta Development Group, outlined some ways in which the group could leverage resources to fund their dreams for Mifflin County.

Kline said something as simple as a $5 county registration fee for car owners could raise $236,000 a year to put toward projects in Mifflin County. From there, the money can be invested into an Infrastructure Bank, leading to further growth.

Other opportunities include money from Multimodal Transportation Program, which funds a wide variety of projects throughout the state and the Green Light-Go Traffic Signal Improvement funding.

The group also worked on a list of strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of Mifflin County. The group will establish sub-committees to address specific topics.