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Headlines of the future: Reimagining Harrisburg

Beau Brown - (Photo / Submitted)

Let’s not look at Harrisburg’s destiny on a calendar or clock.

Let’s see its potential as a series of events. Momentum builders if you will.

As big wins and little wins that generate energy and radiate confidence — pushing the city to catch up on its lost decade, and creating a vacuum that pulls the region into the 22nd century.

In the blueprint section of a previous article, I suggested how we can come together and smartly write 200 headlines, and then use them to guide and steer our future. I say that we the people are the free press.

Wouldn’t it be crazy if Harrisburg City starting setting upward trends nationwide?

I have a quote taped to my library that reads: “That which you gaze upon you shall become.”

So come on, let’s dream a little dream:

• XYZ Company, a Fortune 500 now worth $2 billion dollars, has purchased the massive, several hundred thousand square foot vacant building located at _______. An estimated 150 jobs will be created after a full renovation, says the CEO, who is also building his home along Allison Hill’s Sylvan Terrace, which overlooks the capital skyline.

• The experimental police-citizen alliance which started as a one-year trial has been incredibly successful according to new data. Even to the surprise of its creators, crime has been heavily reduced in city wide targeted areas. The Avant-Garde model, dubbed “The Harrisburg Bridge” is now being studied by a dozen cities nationwide.

• The new “Community Connector” program implemented two months ago already has 7,000 city residents sharing hundreds of ideas on rebuilding their neighborhoods.

• The GSA issued a press release this morning that the new 40,000-square-foot office/warehouse requirement announced last month will search for a location in Harrisburg’s Allison Hill.

City and state leaders have negotiated the project to be privately owned and leased to the state, so that the city can collect a reasonable real estate tax.

• The city grew by 2,500 residents over a three-year period according to local officials. Over 1,000 building permits were issued specifically to these new citizens. Welcome home. 

• Social media comment: Wow, such a great experience with the city code office today. Like night and day from the last city I lived in.

• Social media comment response: Hey, me too. I really didn’t understand the permit process when I wanted to renovate a duplex I bought last year. They guided me through it quickly and respectfully.

• In a stunning reversal from the last several decades, the Harrisburg School District is now competing head to head and across the board with its suburban neighbors. Students and parents have been more involved, and four students interviewed that have recently been accepted to Ivy League schools, all intend to return to the city after earning their degree.

• Pennsylvania’s capital, a once debt-strapped and distressed city in decline, is now being studied by an assortment of companies and individuals across the U.S. after the president quoted a think tank’s case study on how to rebuild America’s cities and towns. 

The globally recognized think tank used Harrisburg as its sole example.

• Harrisburg’s incredible emergence from decades of steady decline, and its rapid financial knockout in the early 2000’s was thought to be impossible just a short time ago. Local citizens attribute its success to the community being empowered, as well as the unique layout of our region.

That’s only 10 lead headlines and impact statements. What would 190 more look like?

Kind of reminds me of the lyrics from a John Lennon song:

“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.”

Harrisburg needs its own version of the Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development team.

Beau Brown is an associate broker with Bennett Williams Commercial.

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