‘Blueprint’ could foster revitalization

The City of Warren could greatly benefit from a renewed effort to revitalize Pennsylvania’s smaller communities.

During last week’s City Planning Commission, City Manager Nancy Freenock introduced the Blueprint Communities initiative for “emerging communities” that have less than 15,000 residents.

The program is sponsored by Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Penn State University Extension Service.

The website for the initiative says it is designed to revitalize older communities and neighborhoods by fostering strong local leadership, collaboration and development capacity by providing community teams with seven days of training.

The program will cost $2,000, and after completion of training, $1,000 is refunded.

“The costs are minimal, and the rewards are great,” Freenock said.

Freenock said she believes the program will help set specific goals for sustainability. “I want to be pro-active. I don’t want the community to die. We’ve got to find a way to bring kids in.”

She said that team members are selected from the community, with representatives from a local FHL bank, in this case Northwest Savings Bank; from the local housing authority; the business community, the city, a local community development agency, again in this case the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry, and a high school student, preferably a junior, plus three other community members.