Greater Honesdale Partnership focuses on grants, revitalization

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 1/29/20

HONESDALE, PA — Rep. Mike Peifer recently announced that more than $890,000 in grant money has been awarded to various organizations and projects throughout Wayne and Pike counties. Among the …

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Greater Honesdale Partnership focuses on grants, revitalization

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HONESDALE, PA — Rep. Mike Peifer recently announced that more than $890,000 in grant money has been awarded to various organizations and projects throughout Wayne and Pike counties. Among the recipients was the Greater Honesdale Partnership (GHP), which has secured $90,000 from an LSA-Monroe grant to complete a downtown revitalization plan.

Getting that grant money is an early victory for the GHP, which has recently adopted a new strategy of expanding its role in Honesdale as both an “economic and community driver,” as GHP President Brian Wilken puts it.

The partnership is responsible for maintaining some yearly traditions: the Irving Cliff star, holiday decorations on Main Street, fireworks on the Fourth of July, parades and sidewalk sales, to name a few. In 2020, the GHP’s leaders want to more fully embrace its designation as the “economic arm” of the borough.

In addition to the $90,000 it has already been awarded, the GHP has set its sights on securing as much grant money as possible. By becoming a “designated downtown” with the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, GHP Executive Director Lisa Burns said that Honesdale has a better shot at receiving grant funding from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. Membership with the Downtown Center, however, takes a lot of work.

“Being a member of the PA Downtown Center, requires us not only to report things on what GHP is doing, but every single time that Honesdale is on the TV, radio, or newspaper—whether that be positive or negative—we have to report that. The same goes for every single committee that we hold,” Burns said. “We’re reporting every move that we make.”

In addition to getting its foot in the door at the state level, the GHP is reimagining its local connections with businesses and other economic developers. “It’s totally different,” Wilken said about the GHP’s strategy to connect with its members.

As part of its updated approach, Burns has been meeting with local business owners to find out what kinds of things they would want the GHP to help address.

“A lot of the concerns are marketing and development, and improving the streetscape in town,” Burns said. “A lot of people are not happy with the condition of our street poles, our sidewalks and parking—I hear a lot about parking.” Wilken added that business owners are looking for an advocate at the county and state level; he wants GHP to be that advocate.

Business owners can also expect to see more collaboration among the GHP and similar organizations. Burns said she has been establishing relationships with the Stourbridge Project, the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Alliance, Chamber of the Northern Poconos and the Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO). These groups have partnered up to present a free, eight-week webinar series on financial wellness, beginning in February and on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

The GHP will also host a networking event on the third Thursday of every month and a marketing seminar on “how businesses cross promote” on Thursday, February 20.

In addition to education about marketing, Wilken said they are working on a marketing plan for the borough itself.

“We’re working on a plan with a marketing committee that invites people to come to Honesdale every day of the year,” he said. “Honesdale is really a 365 destination… there’s a reason to come to Honesdale every day.”

He also mentioned that it could not have secured the grant it received without the help of Rep. Jonathan Fritz, Sen. Lisa Baker and Mary Beth Wood of WEDCO. The GHP is currently looking for residents and business owners who are willing to join one of several new committees: Design, Business Improvement, Marketing & Promotions and Organizations & Development.

A schedule of Honesdale’s events can be found at www.visithonesdalepa.com.

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