by Charlie Andrews
A town is a living thing that has an identity, spirit and personality that makes the community unique and alive. Towns are old enough to have seen generations grow, walk their streets, live their lives and pass on. The town itself continues on. This is what gives a town special meaning in our lives. Changes occur, of course, but the essence of the town remains the same. The essence of Carlisle is its downtown, the face and heart of our community. Downtown Carlisle is beautiful, historic, and has a core of unique shops, galleries, antique stores, an art center, a performing arts center, lodging and restaurants. Carlisle overall is an economically diverse town with three colleges, that is growing culturally, intellectually and socially. It has tremendous (yet unrealized) potential.
In the 27 years I have made my living here in the downtown, I have worked alongside fellow merchants, other businesspeople and public officials for the betterment of Carlisle and its downtown.
Today, however, those efforts are no longer moving Carlisle forward. We are slipping into decline. If this decline is allowed to continue, more downtown storefronts will become offices, converted into residences, or increasingly occupied by less-than-credible merchants. I know that this sounds over the top, but I would suggest that it isn’t, and the process has already begun.
We have reached the point of diminishing returns with our current marketing programs as they are currently designed and funded. Complacency has set in as infrastructure ages and economic factors shift. In the mean time, new economic dynamics begin to present opportunities, brought upon by the recent revitalization of our existing malls.
Why is the downtown so important? It is a vital economic factor to Carlisle and the surrounding area that it serves. It is our county seat, an important crossroads and our most significant image of our community to the world. Can we survive without it? Yes, but only as the suburbs of the greater Harrisburg/West Shore area.
To counter this decline, Carlisle must present itself to the world as the unique, beautiful, historic and interesting town that it is. It must do this creatively, energetically, and head on. Carlisle ranks with the Georgetowns and New Hopes of the world, and it needs to show it. This would be the marketing of Carlisle.
Go to Part II
Image Credit: Wonderlane