Unhappy in Pottstown? Maybe You Should Get Out.

After working with Mosaic Community Land Trust in the borough for several years, my family and I decided to sell our home in Schwenksville and move to Pottstown. Not only did we buy a home, but we are also starting a business. I love this town! I have met so many wonderful people in my work here, and now so many neighbors have become friends. I have deep friendships with the people I have met through Mosaic and my church, located in Pottstown, in which I have been active since moving to Pennsylvania 11 years ago. This beautiful old town has captured my heart. The architecture here is unique, genuine, and lovely, whether it’s a twin on Queen Street, a row home on Chestnut, or a 19th century mansion on Hanover or High. I like that I can walk to everything in town, and yes, I love the bike lanes that run right in front of my house. It makes me sad and a bit puzzled when I hear people disparage our town.

Pottstown isn’t perfect. I’m not a Pollyanna. Well, okay, maybe I am, but I’m not ignorant. I know there is crime here, and I know there is a drug problem. But those things do not define this town. I know these problems aren’t easily fixed, but if you aren’t happy with the way things are in Pottstown, then you should get out.

But not in the way you’re thinking.

First: Get out of your mindset. Part of place (or a person) becoming better is to start by believing that it is. Look for the positive around town. See the things that are good about this place and the people that live here. If you are having trouble doing that, talk to someone who likes it here about what they like. Focus on the good things rather than the bad, and then we can all come together and continue to work on making necessary improvements. And when you talk about the town to others, before you launch into the problems, mention the positives. (Can’t think of any? How about the many kind and committed people who live here? We have beautiful architecture and large, lovely street trees. You can walk from one end of town to the other in under an hour, and therefore almost the entire town is walkable. There are some good restaurants here, a top-notch theater, and a scenic river.)

Second: Get out of your house. Get out into the town. If you haven’t been downtown or to the river or Memorial Park in a while, go do it. Things are changing. There are new businesses downtown, and a lot of new ideas coming to fruition. Did you know that Pottstown has one of the only indoor Dragon Boat practice facilities in North America? There is a bead store downtown where you can learn to make jewelry yourself, and they teach classes there all the time. There is an indoor food court that has opened in the old Farmers Market building at the corner of Charlotte and High that has a great taco stand and a vodka bar, and soon a coffee shop and vegan place. And speaking of tacos, we seem to have an excessive number of good places to get them all up and down town. Three Brothers is great, Juan Carlos, The Pub, Los Aztecas and now Aye Caramba…it’s taco heaven! Did you know that a mural is about to be painted on the trail along the river? There’s a new Asian fusion restaurant opening where Brick House used to be, a delicious new doughnut shop near the bus station, a beer garden going in on High Street, and a Bed and Breakfast opening near Jack Cassidy’s Irish Pub. We have a gorgeous restored carousel, an indoor badminton facility, multiple breweries, and even an axe throwing place! There is a lot happening, so get outside and check it out!

Third: Get out of your comfort zone. Join a group, volunteer, get involved. Every person has something to gain and something to give when they involve themselves in their community. Find a church you like and start going. Join your school’s Home and School association and participate in meetings and events. Find a nonprofit or other community group that is doing work you find important and volunteer with them. Come to borough council or school board meetings. Walk next door with a plate of cookies and meet your neighbor. I work in community development, and I am a firm believer that the most effective way to develop a community is to strengthen interpersonal connections within the community. In return for stepping out of your comfort zone, you will find satisfaction in building community, contribute to problem solving, and probably even make a friend.

Things are beginning to change. We need our community members to think positively. Get out of the mindset that may have you thinking the problems are too big to solve or that things can’t get better. Get out of your house, office or car and have a walk around town and look and see what is new, and what’s there that has always been great. And get out of your comfort zone and get involved. We need YOU! We should care about each other, work together to problem solve, and look around and see the good that’s happening all around us. If you have lived here a long time, or used to live here and have moved away, it’s time to look at Pottstown with new eyes. Get out and do it!


Photo courtesy of Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation

Underwater Robotics Company Plans Relocation to Pottstown

Editor’s note: Below is a press release and photo recently received from Steve Bamford, Executive Director of PAID, Inc. – that’s Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. – the economic development leader in Pottstown. I will echo Council President Toroney’s statement: VideoRay is exactly the type of employer we want to attract to our community, and a huge high-five goes out to Jason, Steve, Borough staff, the Zoning Hearing Board, and Borough Council for helping make this happen. Stay tuned as we report on more good economic development news coming out of Borough Hall and PAID…

VideoRay, LLC and Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. (PAID) have announced plans for the relocation of VideoRay’s headquarters to Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

VideoRay, the global leader in observation Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology, is working on plans to acquire and renovate the former Levitz building at 212 E. High Street.

Photo by Henning Klepp Christensen

The building would initially be occupied by 35 VideoRay employees working in management, corporate administration, marketing, engineering, assembly, and repair functions. The rapidly growing manufacturer of very small underwater ROVs expects to increase the size of its workforce over the next several years.

 “I am very excited about what we can do when we relocate to downtown Pottstown,” said Scott Bentley, President and majority owner of VideoRay LLC. “There are a lot of reasons why we will be better off in Pottstown than where we are now. We were recruited by PAID and I have found Borough Manager Jason Bobst and the Borough staff to be very helpful in addressing some zoning and parking issues. It has been great working with PAID and the Borough.”

“VideoRay is exactly the type of employer we want to attract to our community,” said Stephen M. Toroney, Borough Council President. “A global high tech company with tremendous growth potential will soon call Pottstown home and we are pleased to welcome them.”

PAID and the Borough have been working with VideoRay since November to help determine the feasibility of relocating and alleviating concerns about moving from a rural to urban environment. The company has outgrown its current location in East Pikeland, Chester County.

“We presented the many benefits of establishing operations in Pottstown,” said Steve Bamford, Executive Director of PAID. “The idea of locating in a classic, walkable downtown was appealing to the company. Proximity to restaurants, the Tri County Performing Arts Center, public transportation, and convenient parking factored into their decision, as did plans for expansion of the Schuylkill River Trail and the continued growth of Montgomery County Community College in the borough.”

VideoRay is also exploring establishing a robotics campus in the building by leasing space to independent companies that provide some of the accessories and software used by VideoRay and its customers. “The prospect of additional technology companies moving to Pottstown is tremendously exciting and we are here to be of assistance,” said Bamford.

About VideoRay
With more than 1,950 Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) in service around the world, VideoRay is the global leader in observation ROV technology. The VideoRay ROV is an extremely versatile, portable, affordable, and reliable solution for underwater operations including surveys, offshore inspections, search & recovery, homeland & port security, science & research, fish farming, and other unique applications in underwater environments. More information about VideoRay can be found at www.videoray.com.

About PAID, Inc.
Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. (PAID) is the non-profit corporation designated by a partnership of the Borough of Pottstown, Pottstown School District, and the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority to coordinate and lead economic development efforts within the Borough of Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Pottstown SCORE offering social media workshops

Below is information for business owners and entrepreneurs from the Pottstown chapter of SCORE. SCORE is made up of current and retired professionals with years of experience and success in business. They understand the challenges you’re facing, and their workshops and counseling services are geared to give you real-life insights, advice, and education. Check out all they have to offer at their website. And definitely check out their upcoming social media series on March 5, 12, 19, 26 to find out how to get people talking and texting and tweeting about YOUR business.

Using Social Media
to make your Business GROW 

This Workshop Series will be held at the
Tri-County Chamber of Commerce
Conference Center
152 E. High St., Suite 360
Pottstown, PA
Have you engaged your customers in a conversation?

Are your customers telling others about you?

Social Media is about engaging your customers so that they promote your business. Here’s an opportunity to learn what this is all about and how you can apply it to GROW your business. This workshop series is taught by practitioners recognized as experts in the use of Marketing and the Social Media technologies. 

Workshop Session Topics: 

I.   The Secrets of Effective Internet Marketing

This session focuses on what you need to do to get ready for a marketing program using the Internet.

  • The importance of planning.
  • The keys to getting great results from your marketing program.
  • How to create a compelling message.
  • How the Marketplace has changed.
  • How to implement your marketing through technology to get the results you want.

II.   The Power of Social Media

This session focuses on what you need to know before you get started, how to build an effective Social Media campaign for your business and how to build your online social network .

  • What Social Media Networking sites you need to be on, how they work and how to set up an account.
  • The Power of Blogging including: what is it, how will it help your business and WordPress.com, the blog site you need to be on and how to use it.
  • Why you should think about Video Blogging.
  • How Social Media will save you money while making you money.

III. Mobile Marketing

Your Customers are using Mobile … There’s an App For That and More!

  • Why you and your business app-solutely need to have a Mobile Strategy.
  • Learn how to leverage a Cross Channel Mobile Marketing Strategy.
  • Learn how to leverage a Cross Channel Mobile Marketing Strategy.
  • Why you should be building a list of your customers.
  • Identifying the best marketing channels for your message.
  • How to build a laser targeting list of customers using Mobile Marketing.
  • How and Why you should build a Mobile App for your Business.

IV. eMail and Social Media—are they married yet?

This session focuses on how to use eMail marketing to engage your customers.

  • Why eMail should be a part of your Marketing Strategy.
  • How you can get into Social Media for free today—and here is the instruction book.
  • What you should measure and what you should do about it.

Schedules and Fees: 
Each session costs $40. A special price of $100 is offered for all 4 sessions as a package. Additionally there is 50% off the course fees for each additional person. All fees are non-refundable .

You can register by submitting an Online Registration Request . The registration fee will be due the first night of the workshop.

You can also register by mail by downloading and mailing this Registration form along with the workshop fee.

Make checks payable to SCORE and mail to: Pottstown SCORE, Chapter 594, 244 High Street, Suite 102 Pottstown, PA  19464.

Click here for the workshop Brochure.

PDIDA holding meeting tonight for downtown merchants – please attend, if you can!

AGENDA for Merchant Meeting

January 24, 2012

6 pm

Borough Hall

INTRODUCTION – Sheila Dugan PDIDA Chairman

Board Members – Steve Bamford – Council Members – Jason Bobst – Each Merchant – Visitors

Sheila Dugan – Recap 2011

  • Board Reorganization
  • Super Sundays – Small successes – change of day was suggested
  • Hometown Holidays – Small but profitable – Ads – Stores staying OPEN – Flash Mob Shoppers
  • Goals for 2012 – Bigger Events / Not necessarily More Events That will bring people downtown

*Meeting with Jason , Parks N Rec, PACA, Carousel to join in this mission

  • Cleaner Downtown
  • Targeting New Businesses for the Downtown
  • More Marketing of the Downtown as well as Events

*All of this requires help – Please join in the efforts!

Susan Storb – Financials

  • We have reduced administrative costs by more than 50%
  • More Assessment revenues for Events and Marketing
  • Timely Payments are important – there are still a couple of outstanding invoices for the coloring book

Andrew Monastra – Façade Loans and Assessment Payments

Cindy Brower – Events / Committees Formed

Motorcycles – Gospel Riders – April 28th looking for Rain date on 29th – A Sunday

Creating a yearly calendar of events – We need your ideas

Car Shows


John Armato  – Communications

Monthly PDIDA Corner – both in the Mercury and On Line

Ben Moscia – Clean Up – Our Responsability

County Community Service People

Snow Removal

Littering Laws

 Merchant Discussion

What are your issues and concerns?

What are your suggestions going forward?

How would you like to get involved?

Downtown Pottstown ready for shoppers today and Sunday!

Pottstown residents, supporters and the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) are encouraging shoppers throughout the region to put Pottstown’s retail, dining, and entertainment businesses on their lists this holiday season.

Today From 10 am – 1 pm, a “Holiday Shopping March” has been organized to facilitate visitors coming downtown to get some shopping done while supporting the LOCAL economy. Here’s what the organizers have to say:

Meet up at Bistro 137 – 137 E. High St. at 10:00am
Event facilitator will be available there until 11:15.

Relaxation at The Brick House, 152 E. High St,
will begin after 1:00pm.
Reservations under Shopping MeetUp

In support of your local economy and in coordination with Occupy Pottstown, We cordially invite you to join us for a Holiday Shopping March. Your day will begin at a predetermined location where you will meet the local facilitators of the event. You will be given information on the merchants in the area and details on any other events which may be occurring. You will also be asked to help us promote a positive image of Occupy Pottstown. You may, or may not, oblige by wearing a pin and/or distributing educational materials.

Then you are free to shop, browse, spread the word or simply enjoy the social aspects of the day by strolling the High Street Shopping District, solo or with others. You are invited to end your day by relaxing with the group in a noncommittal environment at a pre-selected restaurant.

It is becoming increasingly harder for small, local businesses and artisans to survive in the corporate climate of this nation. We ask for you to please put aside any bias or preconceived notions you may have and join us in the fight to bring America back to the People.
Thank you, in advance, for your consideration and cooperation.

Happy Holidays and Blessed Be to you and yours.

PDIDA is hosting another Super Sunday tomorrow, November 27th from noon-4 pm. Here’s the lowdown from PDIDA:

Downtown Pottstown will host “Super Sunday” on Sunday, November 27th.  Sheila Dugan, the Chairman of Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA), is inviting all to help celebrate National Support Small Business Day.  Many downtown merchants will have their doors open to take part in the celebration from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.  The Farmer’s Market will host a number of crafters and special deals will be found at Grumpy’s, Freeland Meats, and J. & H. Produce.  There will be many activities for youngsters including face painting and a visit to the Santa house as it is being decorated for the upcoming holiday season.

            The Farmer’s Market will also be hosting “The Giving Tree” for Head Start.  Donations of food and clothing will be greatly appreciated.

            The Second Brigade Motorcycle Club will be displaying their bikes in the parking lot of Sovereign Bank on the 200 block of High Street.  They will be collecting food and clothing items to be donated to families of members of the military.  They will also accept gift cards to supermarkets and coupons for free turkeys.  The Second Brigade Motorcycle Club supports veterans and members of the military who every day put their life on the line to preserve our freedoms.

            Also featured will be the tree decorating contest which will have the winners’ named on December 18th.  Sponsor of the winning entry will receive $500.00 for their organization.

            Free trolley rides with stops at the  100, 200 and 300 blocks of  High Street will be available during Super Sunday.  Additional shops opened will include Lastick Furniture, Cole’s Tobacco, Tri-PAC, Memories N More, Argento’s Pizza, Laserworx, Juan Carlos, Rich Ranieri, Weitzenkorn’s, Christian Reading Room, Bistro 137, Old World Barber Shop, and the High Street Music Company.

             Super Sunday is the kickoff to events throughout December including:

  • December 2nd is a visit by Santa Claus and the traditional candy toss.
  • December 4th the Parks and Recreation Department will be sponsoring the 5K Santa Run and Bark for Life event.
  • December 9th is Mosaic and PDIDA Holiday Ball.
  • December 11th is Santa Open House.
  • December 18th is the Holiday Brunch with many local restaurants participating.

            For more information contact SheilaDugan@comcast.net.

PAID hires Steven Bamford as executive director

Earlier today an article in The Mercury‘s online business section announced the hiring of Steven Bamford by PAID, Inc. to serve as the first executive director of the revamped economic development entity responsible for Pottstown’s revitalization. Roy’s Rants writes that Mr. Bamford’s first day will be November 10th. Mr. Bamford brings more than 20 years of economic development experience to the position. There is much work to be done, and it’s a relief and very welcome news to hear that Pottstown has got someone with his credentials working on its behalf.  Welcome aboard!

TriCounty Community Network Announces Job Seekers’ Forum

The economy being what it is, chances are you know someone who is unemployed or underemployed, including possibly yourself. The TriCounty Community Network (TCN) has announced announced the First Annual TriCounty Community Job Seekers’ Forum on Thursday, November 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the TriCounty Performing Arts Center & Village Productions (TriPAC) at 245 East High Street in Pottstown. 

TCN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health, social and environmental conditions in Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania. The event will enable job seekers to learn about job opportunities in the Tricounty area, hear first-hand from employers and participate in a Q&A session with human resource professionals from area employers.

Presented by TCN and coordinated by the TCN Exelon Nuclear Workforce Development Program, the Job Seekers’ Forum will include:  AlliedBarton Security, Exelon Nuclear, HCR ManorCare, Lowe’s, PeopleShare Staffing, Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, and Robert Half International.

“Unemployment is a major issue in today’s economy and especially in the Greater Pottstown area, where the unemployment rate was 11% in August,” said Jennifer Doyle, executive director at TCN.  “Workforce development is a major focus of our efforts at TCN and we believe programs like this will help job seekers in our community gain the necessary tools and information to best position themselves for a new job.  We appreciate Exelon Nuclear and the other companies participating in the program for stepping up to help.”

About TriCounty Community Network

TCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership-based organization that partners with nonprofits, businesses and community members to improve health, social and environmental conditions.  Serving Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, TCN offers seven key programs: Build Up Youth, C.A.R.E. (Caring in Alternative Residential Environments), Environmental Awareness, Family Literacy, Homeless Services, S.A.F.E. (Supporting Abuse Free Environments), and Workforce Development.  For more information on TCN, visit www.tcnetwork.org.

County’s Small Business Assistance Fund seeks to retain/expand jobs

Mr. Ken Klothen, Director of Economic Development for Montgomery County will be meeting tomorrow with members of the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce and facilitating a seminar on the County’s Small Business Assistance Fund (SBAF). Downtown business owners have also been invited to attend.

The Small Business Assistance Fund is intended to help businesses retain jobs, expand jobs or begin operations, especially in central business districts. The program will provide low-interest financing for a portion of the costs of land, building, capital equipment, and working capital to businesses unable to fully finance these costs through non-public, commercial sources.

For more information, see the County webpage here and contact: 

Ken Klothen, Director of Economic Development

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