This seminal report by Charles Bartsch of the North East Mid West Institute in 2003 was a background report for a Brookings Institute Report on Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania.
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Most cities and towns within Pennsylvania can point to a declining or closed industrial site,
dying shopping center, gas station, or dry cleaner within their boundaries. These facilities must be
returned to productive use.
Communities experiencing growth are converting close-in sites to living or
working space. Those trying to pull out of decline need a magnet for possibilities. Returning these
sites to productive use does more than create jobs and tax revenues; it produces social, environmental,
and aesthetic benefits.
Despite the potential of these sites and the interest in their revitalization, serious obstacles
impede progress. Chief among these is contamination affecting the land and buildings on these sites,
even if it exists only at small levels. In some situations, owners have decided to "mothball" their
facilities, letting them sit idle rather than grappling with the reuse challenges they face. In other cases,
private owners have simply given up on their properties, allowing them to revert to the public domain.
This means that local governments, often pressed for cash, are being forced to deal with the problems
of contamination and decay themselves in order to see these facilities returned to productive—and tax
Over the next few weeks and months, we will be exploring the seminal report, issued by the Boorkings Institution, which examined the State of our State and offered many bold recommendations. We will be revisiting these assumptions and seeing how we did and where we stand.