In The Summer - 2016 Issue
Jun 08, 2016 05:59PM
By Melanie Heisinger
We take our region for granted. And this inability to recognize, appreciate and utilize our natural resources holds us back.
Fact is, we live among some of the country’s most unspoiled beauty: picturesque forests, water features, state parks and mountains! What’s preventing us from harnessing their economic power?
Look at the thriving communities around the country—Austin, Portland, Asheville, for example. What do they have in common? Is it well-paying jobs? In fact, competition for jobs is fierce. Is it a low cost of living? Some of these cities are among the most expensive in the country. What do they offer? Quality of life.
Here’s the thing: We have quality of life.
Central Pennsylvania has low crime rates, high-quality education, friendly people, and livable, affordable communities. And we have the outdoors—lots of open spaces ripe for exploring on bike, foot, skis, snowshoes and with rod and reel, binoculars and photographic equipment.
Why not harness our region’s natural assets to boost economic development, a growing body of people asks?
Instead of rallying behind the notion that we must build “it” to incentivize people to come, it makes far more sense to use our strengths—the birds, the bees, the flowers and the trees, as Armstrong Township Supervisor Jim Dunn labels it—to fill hotel rooms and convince millennials this is a desirable and worthwhile place to live.
Plans for just one of those natural resources, the Ridge Trail in Clinton and Lycoming counties, have been drawn up and are sitting on a shelf, awaiting funding. We explore this gem on this page of this issue. Look for more dream schemes to be revealed in future issues.
Already, some from outside the region recognize the trail’s potential and organized mountain bike races and events on the Ridge Trail and its connecting spurs, attracting people from all over the nation and the world to partake! More plans and events are in the works.
What will it take for those in positions of power and with funding authority to recognize, embrace and leverage the assets that make this region unique, livable and sustainable?
If you feel strongly about this issue, make your wishes known to your municipal leaders.
Best wishes for a summer filled with the outdoors,
Erica L. Shames
Founder & Publisher
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