En­trepreneurs put faith in Coatesville’s re­vival

Chester County 2020 pro­gram pre­sents suc­cess sto­ries

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Fran Maye fmaye@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ken­nettpa­per on Twit­ter

COATESVILLE >> Ken­nett Square, Down­ing­town and Phoenixville ex­pe­ri­enced eco­nomic re­newal af­ter en­trepreneurs came in and in­vested in the towns.

That was fol­lowed with the in­cep­tion of Main Street pro­grams, which brought an in­fu­sion of grant money to stim­u­late growth. And Coatesville is on the brink of that re­newal if it can of­fer en­trepreneurs eco­nomic in­cen­tive.

That was the mes­sage of a re­cent Chester County 2020 pro­gram at the Brandy­wine Cen­ter in Coatesville, fea­tur­ing Bill Co­valeski, co-founder of Vic­tory Brew­ing Co., and Barry Cas­sidy, re­vi­tal­iza­tion ex­pert and former Down­ing­town Main Street man­ager. Chester County com­mis­sion­ers Ter­ence Far­rell and Michelle Kich­line at­tended.

When Co­valeski opened Vic­tory Brew-

ing Co. in Down­ing­town in the mid-1990s, the bor­ough en­joyed great eco­nomic growth. The small brew pub brought the com­mu­nity to­gether like never be­fore. Town hall meet­ings helped not only to keep peo­ple in­formed, but to give them in­put.

“From our first zon­ing vari­ance hear­ing in 1995, there were a fair num­ber of peo­ple who didn’t want an al­co­hol pro­ducer in town,” said Co­valeski, who has since opened up two more brew­pubs, in Ken­nett Square and in Parkes­burg. “But you have to have faith in the fu­ture. You now see em­ploy­ment Vic­tory cre­ated and com­mu­nity pride we cre­ated.”

Cas­sidy said Main Street pro­grams help to at­tract vis­i­tors by en­cour­ag­ing streetscape pro­grams and fa­cade pro­grams. Ken­nett Square of­fi­cials re­cently an­nounced it was close to se­cur­ing a $50,000 fa­cade pro­gram, money busi­nesses or prop­erty own­ers can ob­tain freely (up to $5,000) to im­prove build­ings lo­cated just off the main street.

Con­ve­nient trans­porta­tion, Co­valeski said, is es­sen­tial to town re­vival. Coatesville has a train sta­tion that can help to drive that re­newal.

“Trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture is huge,” Co­valeski said. “We are get­ting to a point where mil­lenials aren’t go­ing to want the bur­den of driv­ing. Trans­porta­tion hubs that al­low peo­ple to get to point to point will con­tinue to be key.”

Coatesville of­fi­cials are fight­ing hard to get their share of grant money to be­gin the re­vi­tal­iza­tion. Just last month, the Chester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion and the Coatesville Area Part­ners for Progress an­nounced the re­ceipt of a grant from the Wells Fargo Re­gional Foun­da­tion for Coatesville Grow­ing Greater, a neigh­bor­hood re­vi­tal­iza­tion ini­tia­tive.

The grant will fund a res­i­dent driven plan­ning process that will seek to pre­pare tar­geted Coatesville neigh­bor­hoods for pos­i­tive change, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the or­ga­ni­za­tions said. The process will be guided by a steer­ing com­mit­tee com­posed of neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents, area busi­ness own­ers and non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions ac­tive in the neigh­bor­hood.

Wil­liam J. Stevens III, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Chester County 2020, said en­trepreneurs re­ally can make a dif­fer­ence in the well-be­ing of small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“Gov­ern­ment and in­sti­tu­tions can do a lot for town cen­ters,” said Stevens. “But if you rely on them alone to pop­u­late com­mu­ni­ties, you’ll get some­thing like a col­lege cam­pus, or an of­fice park. Th­ese things can be very nice, but with­out the “real-life” at­trac­tions - the lo­cal busi­nesses that draw peo­ple in ev­ery­day ways the ac­tiv­ity in our towns would lack the fla­vor that makes a place “real.” The en­trepreneurs are the ones who pro­vide this vi­tal in­gre­di­ent. And let’s not for­get the en­trepreneurs are the ones who take the risk at the front end of the process, that makes suc­cess pos­si­ble. We owe them our re­spect and thanks.”

Chester County 2020 is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps to pro­mote thought­ful land use con­sis­tent with Chester County’s com­pre­hen­sive plan,“Land­scapes,” and to fore­stall con­tention around land use and qual­ity of life is­sues.

FRAN MAYE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Barry Cas­sidy, left, former Main Street man­ager in Down­ing­town, and Bill Co­valeski, co-owner of Vic­tory Brew­ing Co., dis­cuss ways en­trepreneurs can help to kick­start town re­newal dur­ing a re­cent Chester County 2020 meet­ing in Coatesville.

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