Me­dia weighs eco­nomic devel­op­ment, and its fu­ture

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Susan L. Serbin Times Cor­re­spon­dent

ME­DIA » So how is the econ­omy in the county seat? About 40 peo­ple showed up at a re­cent fo­rum to find out. The study coun­cil com­mis­sioned ear­lier this year de­liv­ered ini­tial re­sults of their look at busi­ness in the borough. Many of those stake­hold­ers had al­ready been part of fo­cus groups, sur­veys and var­i­ous types of in­put.

The project was to de­velop an Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Strat­egy and Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plan to main­tain and pro­mote the eco­nomic health of the borough, and pro­vide ac­tion steps over the next five to 10 years. The team was com­prised of Econ­sult So­lu­tions, Inc., JVM Stu­dio of Philadel­phia and The Rid­dle Com­pany, a Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based re­tail con­sult­ing prac­tice. The team co­or­di­na­tor was Brit­tany For­man, coin­ci­den­tally a borough res­i­dent.

The find­ings are still in a draft form sent to coun­cil, but Econ­sult’s Peter An­gelides started with the com­ment, “Me­dia is in re­ally good shape. It’s the kind of place that ev­ery­one wants to be.”

While that is a fa­vor­able out­look — and one which most res­i­dents rec­og­nize — it presents the very chal­lenges cre­ated by the need to grown and change. Al­though the study con­sid­ered the whole of the borough, less than 1 square mile with about 5,300 res­i­dents, the fo­cus was on the busi­ness district of State Street and Bal­ti­more Av­enue.

Gen­tly put, Cather­ine Timko of The Rid­dle Com­pany said State Street, “a great street,” is like very good shoes that need pol­ish.

“The curb­side ap­peal should be taken up a notch,” said Timko of build­ing fa­cades. “Peo­ple want re­tail to be an ex­pe­ri­ence.”

To com­pli­cate the chal­lenge, Me­dia is see­ing com­pe­ti­tion with The Prom­e­nade at the for­mer Gran­ite Run Mall site, the El­lis Pre­serve in New­town Square, and yet un­known fi­nal devel­op­ment at the Franklin Mint site in Mid­dle­town. How­ever, each seems to be build­ing on a cur­rent trend that Me­dia need not do — cre­ate a walk­a­ble “town” en­vi­ron­ment.

“You have the in­her­i­tance of a place,” said Jonas Maci­u­nas of JVM Stu­dio. “You can dou­ble down on these strengths.”

The team looked at eco­nomic devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and al­ter­na­tives. Among rec­om­men­da­tions, and not sur­pris­ingly, will be re­cruit­ment of di­verse re­tail busi­nesses (po­ten­tially with fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive from some source), and at­ten­tion to trans­porta­tion modes for ve­hi­cles, bi­cy­cles and the SEPTA trol­ley, and pedes­tri­ans. They also strongly sug­gested the ex­ist­ing Me­dia Busi­ness Au­thor­ity move to in­de­pen­dence from gov­ern­ment. Fu­ture vi­sion­ing of the in­dus­trial district was also noted, par­tic­u­larly with the res­i­den­tial growth at the western gate­way.

Their pre­sen­ta­tion and over­all draft re­port are ex­pected to be posted on the borough web­site/ Both doc­u­ments are ex­ten­sive with data, industry trends, and ac­tion that can be taken im­me­di­ately, short and long term. Ac­tion — the team heav­ily stressed — is a mat­ter to be con­sid­ered by coun­cil. It was clear by the en­gage­ment of res­i­dents, it will be a part­ner­ship.

The Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Strat­egy and Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plan was is funded by Me­dia Borough and by a grant from the Trans­porta­tion and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive of the Delaware Val­ley Re­gional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

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