Lancaster, California – A Community Pottstown Should Emulate
Listed below are the 2009 accomplishments for the City of Lancaster California’s Economic Development/Redevelopment Department. This is not some wealthy, gated fantasy community. It is ethnically diverse and economically very middle class. I listed some demographic info from the city website below the accomplishments (also from the city website).
The accomplishments below are for ONE year – 2009. The lists for other departments are also impressive.
Will the day ever come when we can expect even a fraction of such results in Pottstown? I don’t think there has been this much economic development/redevelopment activity here in 10 years, let alone in one year!
Lancaster, CA had a population of 37,000 people in 1977. Today, the population is listed at 145,000. This bedroom community has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse by streamlining the development process (cut red tape) and made local business a TOP priority. The Lancaster Redevelopment Agency has attracted retail and dining establishments as well as businesses. The revitalization of downtown Lancaster has been extensive and included façade improvements to existing businesses and the attraction of new business to the downtown. In 2010, a one mile stretch of Lancaster Boulevard was revitalized which will further economic development in the downtown and beyond. Lancaster also has an arts community which is helping to drive revitalization.
Lancaster, CA, like Pottstown, is a strong council, weak mayor system of government with a professional manager (like Jason). I am not advocating that Pottstown try and surpass the population of Allentown. What I am suggesting is our two communities are not all that different socio-economically. If this degree of success is possible in Lancaster, CA then revitalization can happen in Pottstown (on a size appropriate scale, of course). One last thing I will point out is that Lancaster’s city-data crime index for 2009 was 335.2 (Average) compared to Pottstown’s 456.6 (High). Anything over 450 is considered high.
Economic Development/Redevelopment Accomplishments for 2009
- Implemented the Lancaster Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), successfully generating an economic impact of over $123 million dollars
- The ESP’s Shop and Drive Program prompted more than $25 million dollars in new auto sales
- Over 5,000 gift cards were issued as part of the ESP’s Shop and Dine Program. More than 400 Lancaster based businesses and over 6,000 citizens participated in the Shop Lancaster program
- Grand Opening of three new restaurants; The Brooklyn Deli, Blvd Express, and Giannini’s in Downtown Lancaster
- Construction started on a $12 million dollar drainage channel enabling the future development of a new Kaiser Permanente facility and the Promenade at Amargosa Creek
- Launched “Destination Lancaster,” a new visitor’s bureau aimed at promoting tourism and supporting businesses within Lancaster and the surrounding Antelope Valley region
- Grand opening of eSolar’s Sierra Sun Tower, a 5MW solar thermal demonstration facility
- Grand opening of the Artist Lofts and Gallery, a 21-unit mixed use project in Downtown Lancaster, representing a $9.4 million dollar investment by Incite Development
- The inaugural “Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix” roared through Downtown Lancaster, garnering more than 20,000 visitors
- Finalized construction plans for $7 million streetscape improvement project in Downtown Lancaster
- Created a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DayStar Farms, Inc. to cooperatively develop the nation’s first solar park
- The University of Antelope Valley was established in Lancaster and will begin to offer Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees at its newest campus, the former Antelope Valley Inn site
- Created new partnership with the Small Business Development Center, Wells Fargo Bank, and the AV Board of Trade to provide free one-on-one counseling and low-cost business workshops
- In conjunction with the County of Los Angeles and the City of Palmdale, hosted the Antelope Valley Enterprise Zone kick-off breakfast
- Launched Mayor’s new home-based business initiative to provide additional education, training and resources for home-based businesses in Lancaster
- Established two Community Neighborhood Impact houses through partnerships with local faith-based organizations
- Implemented ten Neighborhood Revitalization Plans to improve housing and public improvements within the newly designated areas
- Received the 2009 International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Promotional Award in recognition of the “Shop Lancaster” marketing campaign. The city also received a Savvy Award from the City-County Communications & Marketing Association (3CMA) for its “Shop Lancaster” marketing program
Number and percentage of:Whites: 86,009 / 56.5 %
Blacks/African Americans: 29,263 / 19.2 %
American Indian/Alaska Native: 1,017 / 0.7 %
Asian: 6,568 / 4.3 %
Native Hawaii/Pacific Islander: 306 / 0.2 %
Some other race: 24,109 / 15.8 %
Two or more races: 4,912 / 3.2 %
Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 55,551 / 36.5 %
Economic Characteristics (2006-2008):
Number and percentage of persons:In labor force (over age 16): 61,103 / 57.0 %
Median household income (2008): $49,494
Median family income (2008): $55,569
Per capita income (2008): $19,273
Families below poverty level: 17.9 %
Individuals below poverty level: 20.4 %
Mean travel time to work: 31.6 minutes