LEWISTOWN - Things have been relatively quiet for Downtown Lewistown Inc., but that is about to change considerably in the next few months.
The DLI board met on Thursday at the Regional Business Center to discuss a variety of issues, including their transition into the Keystone Core Communities program.
The Keystone Communities Program shares similar goals with the Elm Street program. They both designate funds to eligible organizations that focus on community revitalization efforts, but under the Elm Street program there were some stipulations as to how that money could be used.
If DLI were to gain funding through the Keystone Communities Program, they would have more freedom in determining how to best use those funds.
Part of DLI's transition to the program includes broadening the scope of their availability beyond Lewistown to the entire county through a Mifflin County Redevelopment Revitalization Corporation.
As part of this transition to a Keystone Communities Program, DLI will have to develop a sustainability model and prove to the Department of Community and Economic Development that they have working partnerships with county and local governments and Industrial Development Corporations, as well as other organizations.
President Jon Zimmerman said he is confident that DLI's partnerships are in good standing and the potential exists to expand on them. DLI is in the process of developing a five-year strategic plan for their Keystone Communities transition.
The first year of that plan would include breaking ground and completing the Fountain Square Park at the Five Points intersection in Lewistown. Bids for the project are due on June 27 and the board is hopeful that the project will be under way this summer.
During the next four years, DLI would help to possibly facilitate building projects along the river and establish a revolving loan program to help fund commercial and residential revitalization projects.
Also part of this program is a need for DLI to secure operational costs for their coming fiscal year, which starts in September. DLI will be asking private citizens, local businesses and some other organizations who already contribute to continue doing so.
Zimmerman said when approaching people to help with those funds, it's important to remind them all the projects DLI has been a part of accomplishing in the last 10 years.
Zimmerman showed a lengthy slide show starting with the Montgomery Avenue project, which came about after a fire razed businesses in the area. As a result, the former Mann Edge Tool Company and Crider Mitchell Construction later donated the land for the street project. Other projects shown during the presentation include the ComPASS center, which houses important community organizations. There were also photos of the Kish Riverwalk project, as well as a handful of the 43 residential reinvestment grant projects done on 27 properties over the years.
Zimmerman also cited the importance of other positives in the community which are a draw for people who want to make a home in Mifflin County.
Zimmerman said having a first class hospital, a new high school, large scale building projects, such as the First Quality facility, GE Inspection Technologies, Derry Heights, Mann Edge Terrace apartment complex, and streetscape projects expanding from Monument Square and the Water Street project, which improved the rail road, all serve the same purpose - improving the quality of life in Lewistown.
Zimmerman said these things have kept Mifflin County competitive.
"We took lemons and made lemonade. We've done it, and we continue to do it as a community," he said.