Building on Strength through Collaborative Economic Development


  • The potential of nontraditional forms of economic development in contributing to a robust and holistic long-term strategy for economic growth
  • The opportunities and challenges associated with trends in creative and collaborative economy models, such as makerspaces and coworking venues
  • The value of a hybrid traditional/non-traditional economic development strategy as a tool for city-wide revitalization


Creative and sharing economies are becoming increasingly relevant as non-traditional models of economic development. Additionally, a successful local economy is closely related to urban design and quality of life amenities. Economic development strategies paint an overall picture of a community’s economy, envision future opportunities, and identify investment priorities. The City of Lancaster, PA, is an historic community filled with ambition. In 2014, taking a proactive and forward-thinking approach, the City sought to leverage prior successes from a 1998 Economic Development plan and produce a new strategy to emphasize Lancaster’s strengths while improving the quality of life. Multi-faceted and comprehensive, the Building on Strength plan was grounded by the reality of an ever-changing society. A three-phased process offered forums for collaboration — accenting analyses conducted over the year-long project. The resulting plan addressed traditional economic development while also cultivating entrepreneurialism; marketing Lancaster as a great place to live, work, and conduct business; and extending opportunities and amenities beyond the Downtown into surrounding neighborhoods. Highlighting the award-winning Building on Strength Plan, this presentation will feature representatives from the planning team and the client to provide a glimpse into leveraging a hybrid, traditional/non-traditional economic development strategy as a tool for city-wide revitalization.