Picking up the pieces after Manheim Downtown Development Group folds

By on August 3, 2016

Now that Manheim Downtown Development Group has officially folded, what will become of the various community events the organization hosted and the economic development activities it was involved in?

Launched as a volunteer effort in 2000, MDDG’s focus was multi-faceted and included economic revitalization through attracting and retaining businesses, improving overall quality of life for area residents and obtaining financial sustainability for Manheim. It was under the umbrella of MAEDC (Manheim Economic Development Corporation).

In 2007, it became an official Main Street organization and received a grant of $265,000 over five years from the Pennsylvania State Department of Community and Economic Development. The grant helped provide funding to hire a Main Street manager to coordinate efforts to promote and enhance the community such as business education programs, community clean-ups, the Adopt-A-Block program, façade improvement grants, and special events.

The grant funding ended in 2013, and since then the organization has struggled for sustainability. In April, Manheim Street manager Doreen Ober said that the organization would fold after hosting its signature event, the Rock-N-Glow 5K, on June 4. It officially closed June 30.

“There’s definitely a void. MDDG was a very valuable organization. They played an important role in the community both with regard to community awareness and economic development,” said Kelly Lauver, administrative coordinator of the Manheim Chamber, “There was some overlap with business seminars, and we’ll be taking on some of MDDG’s responsibilities. That way we can continue some of the valuable programs they did. Other community organizations are stepping up to host some of the events.”

MDDG had hosted not only the Rock-N-Glow, which the Chamber will be taking over, but also two other events. Cruisin’ The Square, a car show on Manheim’s Market Square, will be hosted by MCFEE (Manheim Central Foundation for Educational Enrichment). The date for this year’s event is Saturday, Oct. 15. The Manheim Lions Club will host the Santa Run 5K on Saturday, Dec. 3.

There is also the possibility that the Chamber will partner with businesses and other community organizations to host a new event next year. Lauver said a movie night in one of the borough’s parks is one option being discussed.

The chamber will also assume responsibility for MDDG’s social media aspects. Lauver will administer the organization’s Facebook page and the weekly e-newsletter that Ober had disseminated that was known as The Baron Bulletin. “We’re working on that right now. The blog (e-newsletter) will transition to have more of a business focus. There will still be a ‘calendar of events’ type listing of community activities, so it will serve a dual purpose,” she explained.

Lauver said that so far no one has stepped up to continue MDDG’s beautification efforts such as Adopt-A-Block and the community clean-up day.

“Adopt-A-Block did make a visible impact on the community. Not only did the streets and sidewalks have less litter, the effort was a reminder to people to help keep the community litter-free,” she explained, “The organization also partnered with Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops in community-wide clean-up events. We’re hoping that one of the community organizations may continue this effort.”

With regard to the financial aspect of shuttering MDDG, Tom Showers, vice president and business services and commercial banking officer with BB&T Bank and MAEDC president, said that not all of the organization’s bills have been paid, so a clear picture is not yet available.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

 

Now that the Manheim Downtown Development Group has disbanded, other Manheim organizations have stepped up to take the reigns of some of their projects. The Manheim Chamber of Commerce will organize the Rock-N-Glow 5K, and the Manheim Lions Club will take responsibility for the Santa Run. (Record Express file photos)

Now that the Manheim Downtown Development Group has disbanded, other Manheim organizations have stepped up to take the reigns of some of their projects. The Manheim Chamber of Commerce will organize the Rock-N-Glow 5K, and the Manheim Lions Club will take responsibility for the Santa Run. (Record Express file photos)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *