A city in Central Pennsylvania was recognized statewide for its efforts to revitalize: Johnstown.
The city and the efforts of the grassroots group Vision 2025 were featured in the state Department of Community & Economic Development’s 2017 report, titled “Work Smart. Live Happy. A Pennsylvania Story.”
“This is something Johnstown certainly should be celebrating. This is something we should be bragging about. It’s a really significant honor to be recognized in this capacity,” said Ryan Kieta, a Vision 2025 consultant.
Johnstown, Erie and Bethlehem were the only three cities recognized. Johnstown was praised for promoting the outdoors, efforts to bring in businesses and jobs and celebrating the arts and history.
“It’s not a bad town,” said Sandi Conners, a Johnstown resident. “It’s been my home and it always will. So I hope they do build up Johnstown because Johnstown really needs to be built up.”
The publicity was surprise to some Johnstown residents, but not everyone.
“A lot of change has been made. New restaurants going up, the park has been redone,” said William Petrunika, who works in Johnstown.
“It’s about time because people really put a lot into what they’re doing around here, but it’s put to the back-burner and all you hear is the negative stuff. There’s a lot more positive stuff happening here than there is negative stuff,” said Debby Carbone, another Johnstown resident.
Conners moved back to Johnstown after living in New York and Atlanta for nearly 30 years. She said she’s seen the city struggle, but it’s fighting to come out on top. She said she’s seen slow progress first-hand.
“I can see it. It just takes time,” Conners said.
If you’d like to learn more about Vision 2025 and how to volunteer or donate, visit their Facebook page.