[NEW CASTLE, PA—Friday, March 17, 2023] – New Castle City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a contract with New Visions for Lawrence County, in a move to create a partnership across sectors to strengthen the community and economic revitalization efforts for the City.
As part of the agreement, New Visions Executive Director Angie Urban will transition to the role of Executive Director of the New Castle Citywide Development Corporation (NCCDC). Urban will be primarily focused on grant writing, overseeing the realization of the “Hometown Blueprint Plan” and revitalization of the downtown area of New Castle.
The City of New Castle received a state grant to hire an individual or entity to expand the capacity of the NCCDC as City officials recognized the benefits to residents through active and effective community and economic development efforts. The grant will fund more than two thirds of the contract with New Visions with the remaining third coming from City funds.
The City and NCCDC conducted an extensive search for the best fit for this vital role, upon conclusion of the search that included online, local, and regional advertisement, the committee voted unanimously to recommend Urban and New Visions.
Urban will retain a position with New Visions, dedicating her time to the NCCDC. Her daily priorities will be focused on executing plans for the City. The direct line to New Visions will allow for better collaboration and a full utilization of available resources.
New Visions is a nonprofit organization that has been serving as a catalyst for revitalization in New Castle since 2012. It has largely been a volunteer movement that has engaged thousands of people and partners in activities like planting flowers, recognizing our ‘Hometown Heroes’ on light pole banners, coordinating the annual ‘Hometown Holiday’ parade, seasonal ice-skating rink, the summer concert series, the ‘Hometown Market’ at Cascade Galleria, Cash Mobs, and more.
The activities highlight the potential for downtown and have been focused on beautification, increasing foot traffic for downtown businesses, and offering high quality experiences which are intended to shift perceptions and create positivity through vibrancy.
Urban has been at the forefront of planning and overseeing the downtown events since 2016. She has served as a community organizer, connector, and champion for downtown New Castle and the shift to a partnership lead with the NCCDC takes this work to a new level.
“Volunteers and an engaged community are a huge piece of revitalization, and this community is eager for action,” says Urban. “To partner closer with the City and NCCDC allows us to focus more on collaborative projects that are larger than a group of volunteers or either entity could have accomplished alone.”
The NCCDC, City, and New Visions are immediately prioritizing several projects that include the development of a façade program, the creative re-use of a vacant lot on E. Washington Street (the main corridor through town) and offering better communication with the public about happenings in the City.
“Initial steps will require attention on grant writing and thinking outside the box on how to use the resources available to us,” said Mayor Bryan Cameron. “But as the projects begin to take shape and ultimately to attract investors, the momentum will pick up. All of Council believes the partnership with New Visions is important and Angie is the perfect person to move these ideas forward.”
Short term goals of the NCCDC include the addition of a branding specialist as well as a Main Street Manager soon, contingent upon Urban obtaining funding for the positions. The Main Street Manager will assist Urban in many areas but will act as the main point of contact with the downtown business owners to ensure continuous involvement and coordinated marketing efforts.
All the ideas set to be put into action are pieces of the aforementioned ‘Hometown Blueprint Plan,’ a comprehensive strategy for New Castle’s revitalization. City officials, New Visions and the NCCDC board believes that a collaborative approach is the only way to take giant leaps forward for New Castle.
“As a City, we’ve invested in the necessary foundational pieces of planning and now it’s time to implement those recommendations,” said City Administrator Chris Frye. “The focus on community and economic development will not only help the City to exit Act 47 status, but will put us on a trajectory to succeed once we shed the distinction. We are excited for the addition of Angie as she brings an energy and willingness to learn; a strategy of gathering people to dream and act on what our community could be; and a selfless commitment to helping sculpt the future of New Castle- our hometown.”