Pottstown courts investors with upcoming conference

Brian Pedersen//April 5, 2019

Pottstown courts investors with upcoming conference

Brian Pedersen//April 5, 2019

They hope the third annual Pottstown Investors Conference on April 12 will lend a hand.

“We have momentum in town,” said Twila Fisher, director of community and economic development for The Hill School and Hobart’s Run, two organizations co-sponsoring the event.

Overall, Fisher sees more real estate development in the borough, including a rise in residential real estate sales.

In 2018, 432 units sold were sold in the borough, up from 390 in 2017, according to data from Bright MLS, a multiple listing service.

Fisher, a Pottstown resident, views the numbers as a sign of growing interest among people, particularly millennials, in buying homes in the borough.

“The challenge is making sure people know how much is happening,” said Cathy Skitko, senior director for institutional public relations for Hobart’s Run and The Hill School. “The conference is one way to do it.”

Papered-over storefront windows may give the impression that downtown spaces are empty. But behind some of them, business owners are working on renovations or upgrades to prepare them for opening, according to Skitko.

A number of new businesses are moving into the borough, including a coffee shop, new restaurants, and shops, Skitko said.

Adam Burke, owner of Lily’s Grill in Pottstown, said he opened a second business in June, Pottstown Brewing Co., and has seen growth in the downtown.

Burke also said he has been communicating with other investors in the borough on what they would like to see. Burke said the borough could use more retail, such as clothing and shoe stores, and felt positive about the borough approving an ordinance to allow outdoor dining.

“They are passing an ordinance to allow curbside seating, which would give us an extra 10 people in a small space,” Burke said.

Steel River Playhouse, a downtown theatre, also is bringing more business into his brewery, which includes a restaurant, he said.

“People come to see us before and after the plays,” Burke said.

He also said there’s more camaraderie among business owners. Burke said that’s essential for helping to make the downtown economically successful.

“Everybody is talking like ‘us.’ This is going to work for all of us,” Burke said.

The free conference is aimed at people interested in opening a business or buying, renovating or restoring property in the borough. It will feature two speakers, Diana Lind and Alan Berube.

Lind, the founding managing director of the Fels Policy Research Initiative of Philadelphia will discuss creative strategies for affordable housing, Fisher said.

Berube is a senior fellow and deputy director at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program of Washington, D.C. He will discuss how to maintain quality in post-industrial towns and still address the needs of low-income residents.

The conference is scheduled to take place at The Hill School’s Center for the Arts, 760 Beech St. in Pottstown.

To register go to https://www.thehill.org/about-us/about-pottstown/investors-conference.