Johnstown Evolving in 21st Century

JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY --- It's a community that's managed to stay afloat through three devastating floods.

"I think resiliency is a key word when you're talking about Johnstown," Johnstown City Manager Curt Davis said.

Covering 249 acres between the Stoneycreek and Conemaugh Rivers, the city of Johnstown is at its heart a blue collar town.  Built on the once booming iron, coal, and steel industries, the work ethic of previous generations is still alive and well today.  

“One of the things we're hearing from even our defense manufacturers in the area is that we do have a good work ethic in this area, and I think that is rooted in our history of coming in and working in those mills." Davis said.

In its heyday the city had a population near 60,000.  Over the years mills have closed and the number of residents has dwindled to around 23,000.  But Johnstown is once again finding its niche.  Thanks in part to work by congressional powerhouse John Murtha, defense contractors from all corners of the globe now call the greater Johnstown region "home".  Some facilities are outside city limits, but still support the downtown economy. 

"We either move forward or we sink as a region.  Therefore we do a lot of cooperation, our economic development and redevelopment all work with JARI so we're working together to bring people into the region.  Even if it's not specifically located in the city, it's still city residents who can get jobs in those facilities," Davis said.

City leaders continue to work on moving the region forward.  In recent years they've seen the additions of a conference center, $11 million in renovations to point stadium, and a tech park expected to open in November of this year.  While their sights are set of the future, Davis says city council is always keeping an eye to the past. 

“We're turning around, looking at the stone bridge, JAHA is going to be refurbishing it so we can always remember here's where we want to go, but don't forget where you came from," Davis said.

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