Greg Panza and Jon Lusin led a discussion regarding encouraging neighborhood residents to participate in a "Buy Locally Campaign" at the Jan. 20 Mount Washington Community Development Corporation community forum meeting.
Mr. Panza, the organization's program manager, and Mr. Lusin, a board vice president, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Main Street Committee encouraged this campaign, which was also discussed at a recent MWCDC quarterly Business Owners Meeting.
Mr. Panza cited several reasons why this was considered such a good idea, including:
-Such local marketing establishes an identity for the community;
-Local nonprofits, such as schools and athletic teams, are encouraged to sell items through or at the stores;
-There is an environmental impact caused by less driving by residents and less shipping by businesses;
-More local jobs are created;
-Customer service at local businesses is better because the customers and retailers are often neighbors;
-And local merchants often contribute money and assistance for local neighborhood events.
The necessity for surveys on the needs of the community was discussed and Mr. Panza said, "They help us understand where we may be falling down."
Executive Director Chris Beichner said surveys last year told the MWCDC board that residents most wanted a hardware store, a gift shop and a fitness center for the Mount. MWCDC representatives have met with people who have expressed interest in locating such businesses in the neighborhood.
"We ought to compile a list of things that people want to buy in Mount Washington and can't get here," a participant in the discussion said. "You can't buy clothes here," she said.
During the discussion Mr. Panza complimented several local businesses, such as Art Zebo on Southern Avenue that sells artwork and specialty items such as handmade candles and soap. He said the owner decided to make and sell all natural soap after a family member was found to be allergic to soaps sold in chain stores.
"We are talking about publishing another business directory here," he said.
Other solutions offered included distribution of coupons and using social media, such as Facebook, for promotion.
Mr. Beichner noted the Duquesne Incline sold merchandise for tourists but the Monongahela Incline, a mile away and near the Shiloh Avenue business district, offered none.
Mr. Panza talked briefly about assistance he has been giving the Allentown Community Development Corporation. The poles with banners have been repainted and a mural adorns Brosville Avenue. When the weather breaks, there will be plantings at three community gateways.
He said he thought the new parking lot planned by the Zone 3 police station will change the dynamics of that neighborhood and will complement the local gardens with the addition of landscaping and trees.
The next community forum, to be held on Feb. 17, will feature an update on the One Grandview Avenue project, a complex that will include hotel rooms, condos and restaurants.
A guest speaker expected to attend the Jan. 20 meeting – Mayada Mansour, the program director at A Plus Schools - cancelled her presentation and will be rescheduled.
During December there were: One business burglary along Virginia Avenue; eight burglaries at homes; seven incidents of criminal mischief; three charges of DUIs; two arrests for fraud; one robbery; six stolen vehicles; two stolen recreational vehicles; two thefts by deception; nine thefts by auto; two thefts from businesses; seven thefts from persons; and four drug arrests.