Shamokin is getting a lot of attention these days — and for the right reasons.
A slow buildup of momentum to revitalize the community over the past few years is gaining speed.
We point to the number and scope of community agencies and local business and civic organizations represented in a packed house at Thursday’s monthly meeting of Shamokin Area Businesses for Economic Revitalization (SABER) as the latest encouraging sign.
SABER itself is an important development. Its formation last year marks the first time since the demise of Shamokin Business Associates in the early 2000s that local business owners have acted in a concerted effort to improve the downtown.
Also, regular attendees at the SABER meetings have included local, county and state elected officials; local, state and federal government representatives; Bucknell University’s Small Business Development Center, SEDA-COG, the Susquehanna River Valley Visitors’ Bureau and others.
Melding nicely with SABER is the recent establishment of the Franciscan Center and the affiliated Anthracite Region for Progress, which hopes to open even more new channels for delivering revitalization help to the city and Coal Township.
What’s been amazing to see thus far is how those involved see the larger picture that comes through working together, as key players from all sides are part of both SABER and ARP.
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This refocus on local development is driven by many goals, from job creation to cleaning up the environment to simply providing a better quality of life for local residents. That isn’t anything new. But perhaps what is different this time is the confidence these new motivators have because of an important new piece of the puzzle: The AOAA.
There is little doubt the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area is a more powerful force behind this accumulating snowball of good news. It is a true economic driver, bringing tourists and their money to the region in significant numbers.
Visitors bureau Executive Director Andrew Miller said the amount of visitor spending in Northumberland County has increased steadily over the past decade, from $102 million in 2007 to $138 million in 2017, an increase of $36 million, “much of which we attribute to the AOAA,” Miller said.
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The AOAA was a topic of discussion at the latest SABER meeting as plans for its Ice Breaker Ride on March 23 were discussed. The Ice Breaker will bring riders from the AOAA property south of the city to the downtown, not unlike last year’s Taking It To The Streets.
We like that title — Taking It To The Streets — and see a momentum in Shamokin that lends more meaning to that phrase than simply the course of travel for ATVs.