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Newville maps its future: The tiny Cumberland County borough plans to take advantage of its links to the outdoors

Big plans are being discussed for the small town of Newville that officials hope will make it a destination for news businesses and families. And all it took was a handful of people to get the ball rolling, according to Andrea Greene, Newville Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Chair.

“The concept started with Newville leadership: borough council members and borough manager Fred Potzer,” said Greene.

The group had a vision for the future of the town of 1,300 and they began making that happen, with the assistance of Chris Gulotta of the Easton-based Gulotta Group.

“Chris Gulotta set up a foundation for economic development and in May of 2020, we developed our articles of incorporation and got our boards together,” said Greene. Shortly afterward, a 10-year vision for the area came into focus.

NEDA wants the public to recognize them as a welcoming presence in the business community, which includes being a liaison between the community and the borough to streamline permits. Leaders established a Prospect Hosting Committee (PHC) to welcome potential businesses, identify available properties and recommend the best spots for them. The group reached out to business owners, realtors and people like Valerie Copenhaver from the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation to serve on the PHC.

“I’ve been working as the point person for those interested in opening a business in Newville and bringing prospective businesses to the area,” she said.

Developing the Plan

To develop the long-term plan, NEDA assessed the town’s strengths and weaknesses.

“What we learned is that we need to capitalize on the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail that runs from Newville to Shippensburg,” said Gulotta, adding that Newville is also close to Colonel Denning State Park and Big Spring Creek, one of the largest stream-fed creeks in the state and known for its trout fishing.

The group plans to match these attractions with businesses that complement the interests of those who are drawn to them, such as outfitters, bike shops and a coffee shop close to the trailhead.

Additional ideas include increasing housing opportunities by using incentives to turn rental units into owner-occupied housing. This could include the phase-in of taxes on improvements and developing grant and loan programs to help owners preserve, or rehab their properties. Newville is also eyeing additional market-rate housing.

“We can increase consumer purchasing power with market-rate housing so those who live here can support an art community and businesses like galleries and gift stores,” said Gulotta, adding that there is a demand for high-end apartments as well.

He uses Kenn Tuckey, owner of Carlisle-based Tuckey Companies, as an example. “Kenn created three high-end loft apartments at the former St. Paul’s Church at 7 W. Big Spring Avenue and there is currently a waiting list for those units.”

To support these initiatives the group recommended adding parking and childcare facilities, improving sidewalks and adding more shops to the town center.

Greene views all of these goals as eminently doable in light of a recent development. “Newville has voted to go from dry to wet; it’s a big deal for the borough,” she said.

The change will help attract restaurants and perhaps a microbrewery, resulting in more foot traffic in the area.

ShipDaddy moves in

ShipDaddy, which warehouses product for companies that lack a brick-and-mortar store, took advantage of Newville’s hospitality by moving into the former Ribbon Mill on Railroad Avenue in January.

“We went to Boiling Springs schools, so it’s like going back to our roots,” said Trent Bond, founding partner.

Bond said that when they met with borough manager Fred Potzer, he was very welcoming. Another aspect of Newville that appealed to Bond was the small town feel of the area and the location. “From a business perspective, the building was exactly what we were looking for on the Rt. 81 corridor.”

Greene expects more businesses to move in as word gets out about how business-friendly the town is and their newly acquired “wet” status. Gulotta agrees. “They’re in a perfect position to take advantage of many good things that are happening right now and that includes the popularity of ecotourism,” he said.

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