Not So Fast

Erie is getting quite the reputation nationally as a pretty crappy place to live.
First came the NBC report detailing how a “D” community like Erie went “R” in the election of Donald Trump as president. The report showed empty buildings and talked of an eroding economy to illustrate the frustrations that led to the cross-party revolt.
Next up a CBS web-only report in which General Electric union leader Scott Slawson said that Erie was “definitely a sinking ship and you’d be crazy not to get off.”
Now comes the annual Gallup poll of communities based on well-being, where Erie ranked 181 out of 189 towns or in other words in the Top Ten Most Miserable. The poll asked people to consider exercise, obesity, safety and hopes for the future.
It would be easy to see how an outsider could look at Erie and decide you would indeed have be crazy to move here or even live here.
But to all the naysayers both in and out of town I have a simple message: Not so fast.
With GE apparently on a slow downward spiral that could one day see operations leave Erie it’s easy to understand why a union leader like Slawson would have a dour view of Erie’s future. Easy to understand yes but also shortsighted.
Erie’s economy isn’t dead it’s changing. Global realities mean Erie will never again have the commanding manufacturing landscape it did in the heyday of Hammermill, Zurn, Bucyrus-Erie and yes GE. But smart communities have found new ways. If we don’t make as many things then we need to be in the business of moving things around. What’s one of the best companies for its size for that work? Logistics Plus. Where is it headquartered? Erie PA.
Then there are the three building projects all set to start in 2017 and all topping 100 million dollars each in investment. There is the new medical building for UPMC Hamot to handle the transfers from smaller regional hospitals. There are the plans to upgrade Saint Vincent’s emergency rooms and entrances. And there is the massive investment from Erie Insurance that will build a brand new seven story building and create 600 new jobs. That’s three entities willing to inject major dollars into Erie operations. It paints a different picture that never made the networks.
Add the beaches, the daily summertime free concerts schedule, the sports teams, the vineyards, Roar and the rest and an entirely new image emerges.
They can paint whatever picture of Erie they like concentrating on the half empty part of the glass. But those of us who choose to live here; to call this place home, know better.

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