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Allegheny Together Helps Business Districts Thrive

What is Allegheny Together?

Allegheny County Economic Development (ACED) manages business retention, expansion, and attraction for municipalities all across the Western PA county. ACED’s Allegheny Together program focuses on traditional business districts in the county, excluding Pittsburgh, and encourages well-planned, well-designed, and geographically-focused investment while respecting individual communities’ unique characteristics. In 2019, Fourth Economy was selected to bring a holistic set of services to the Allegheny Together initiative with support from evolve Environment and Architecture, and additional county partners.


Through a community application process, accepted applicants are led through a facilitated strategic planning process utilizing data analysis, community engagement, and an urban design review. Through this process, technical assistance priorities are established for each community. In 2020, the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic required these efforts to pivot to business retention and support. Now in 2022 and beyond, Allegheny Together is reincorporating future goal-setting and development back into community plans.


Understanding a Community's Place, Identity, and Market

Our multidisciplinary approach to economic development is rooted in respect for a community’s sense of Place, Identity, and Market.

Allegheny Together works with communities that enter the program to establish their unique sense of Place. An example of this would be the Clairton Community Center. The City of Clairton is renovating a historic bank building in their main street corridor for a new purpose. By incorporating community feedback into their planning process, Clairton can tailor design and renovations to match the desired programming that would best serve the community and preserve a building with unique and historic architecture.


This historic bank building on Miller Avenue in the City of Clairton will be the site of a new community center.


Place Identity refers to a collaboration of ideas in geography, urban planning, urban and streetscape design, landscape architecture, and the culture of those who live there. When residents’ voices are incorporated into the vision and planning for a community, place identity can contribute to a more equitable and economically resilient physical space for residents to call home and attach their own identity. In Mt. Oliver Borough, the redevelopment of the Clocktower Plaza is seeking to establish a central area for community gatherings and events. In developing its future identity, the community would like to establish itself as a haven for artists and art-focused events. That goal has been incorporated into the design for the new Clocktower Plaza to fully maximize the space for those events, as well as featuring a large mural depicting an artistic interpretation of the town’s identity.


Residents of Mt. Oliver Borough get a chance to give input regarding the physical design and programming of the Clocktower Plaza.


Finally, Market describes the economic networks and resources needed in a vibrant business district. It requires collaboration between the community businesses, municipal officials, and residents to create a lasting positive impact for all. It allows the community to understand where they fit into communities and how they can position themselves more effectively in the broader marketplace. Pitcairn Borough is working to establish a business association to strengthen and grow the business community. Participating in events like their seasonal night market allows the business community to build relationships with residents and strengthen their community’s bonds.


Pitcairn Borough’s September 2022 Night Market is about to start.

 

Intrigued and in Allegheny County, PA? Applications for the Allegheny Together program will be opening in a few weeks; sign up for the newsletter to be notified here at the Allegheny Together website. The program is open to municipalities within Allegheny County that qualify for the Community Development Block Grant Program. Curious if your community is eligible or how to get involved? Contact Maya Haptas, [email protected].


Intrigued and looking to replicate this model in your region? Please reach out and we’d be happy to share more information about this effort and other commercial corridor work we’ve been engaged in. Contact Maya Haptas, [email protected] or Rich Overmoyer, [email protected].

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