The planner: Alliance COO working with communities to enhance Lancaster

Alliance COO working with communities to enhance Lancaster

Marshall Snively leads the Lancaster City Alliance, which has been recognized for its economic development plan. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

As the executive vice president and chief operations officer of the Lancaster City Alliance, Marshall Snively is plugged into downtown, and in the eight years he’s lived in Lancaster, he’s seen a lot of change.

One affected his employer. James Street merged in 2013 with a group doing similar work, the Lancaster Alliance.

“We were already working together pretty well, and we shared a lot of the same companies on our boards, so it was a great opportunity to look at how we could sort of expand our resources but also solidify the partnership that we already had,” said Snively, who previously worked in Baltimore.

Now known as the Lancaster City Alliance, the group was recently recognized by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association for its economic development strategic plan.


Lives: Downtown Lancaster

College: University of Maryland, College Park

For fun: “I travel, dine out and cook … enjoying the Barnstormer fireworks from our roof deck.”

Favorite vacation spots: “Rehoboth several times a year, and I try to make it to Miami each winter. Other than that, mostly other urban locales like New York, Baltimore, Philly. I love being so close to the Amtrak station.”

Other careers he considered: “I went to college for architecture, but quickly realized I have a passion for how cities evolve and wanted a career in advocating for urban areas through planning and economic development.”

The plan was created at the request of Lancaster City Mayor Rick Gray at the same time as James Street Improvement District and the Lancaster Alliance came together.

While creating the plan, the organization learned a lot about the needs of Lancaster city and not only how to improve the city, but also how to market it as part of a thriving county.

Q: What is your favorite thing to point to downtown and say, “I was a part of that?”

A: The downtown has a fantastic, very close-knit merchant community, and we’ve always had a history of that. I would say over the last five years, especially, it’s been gratifying to see how many come to our monthly merchant meetings. To be part of that is very rewarding.

I’d say the other piece is the work that we do in the community — we always say that we don’t want to do work for communities, we want do work with communities and empower them to enhance their quality of life.

Is there any part of the city that you feel goes untouched?

What we found through our economic development planning process when we met with stakeholders, there’s no doubt that the amount of the investment that’s occurred in the city — the majority of that has been in downtown and the North West part of the community. That is something that we want to see spread throughout other areas of the city. So in the plan itself, we were intentional in focusing on commercial corridors outside of downtown as well. So over the next 10, 15 years, our goal is to see more investment on Manor Street, South Duke, South Queen, South Prince and have these areas be more neighborhood, commercial hubs for the communities that they serve.

Lenay Ruhl

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