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Chester County Press

Editorial: The alliance for Coatesville

04/30/2019 09:23AM ● By Richard Gaw
“I pray for the faith, Lord
We pray for your love, Lord

We pray for the lost, Lord
We pray for this world, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord
Come on, rise up.”

            Bruce Springsteen, My City's in Ruins

For the past several years, Coatesville has been a city of two faces.

At its most visible, it is seen in the archaic and crumbling infrastructure of what it had been, which was carved out of the vision and success of the Lukens Steel Company, who for several decades engineered and orchestrated Coatesville's economic heartbeat and gave the community its definition. At its highest powers, Lukens Steel made Coatesville “the Pittsburgh of the East,” employed 10,000 workers, but eventually, through several sales, those numbers dwindled to 5,000 and eventually to 2,000.

To the infrequent visitor, Coatesville has become merely a necessary thoroughfare, a middle point between home and a destination– a Chester County detour of broken promises and shattered confidence.

And yet, a far less visible face, led by a groundswell of leadership, vision and support, is midway through restoring Coatesville to its former greatness.

Begun in 2017, a five-year action plan known as 2nd Century Alliance has created a five-step process to cultivate partnerships, leverage public and private resources, and invest in human capital. The steps are as follows:

•         Create a vibrant commercial corridor

•         Inspire investor confidence and build a business-friendly atmosphere

•         Build strong, stable residential neighborhoods

•         Improve the overall quality of life

•         Communicate the positive attributes of the city

While every lofty aspiration comes with its own set of Big Picture goals, the road to achieving them is found on the battleground of being able to check off dozens of objectives, and taking a look at what the 2nd Alliance has accomplished in its first two years is a checklist of progress. They've produced an inventory of properties in the city's commercial corridor – such as anchor and corner buildings -- that are being selected for improvements. They've established business partnerships who will coordinate development strategies, and found funding and training to assist staff who will support the rebuilding of neighborhoods. The Alliance has identified more than one dozen projects it anticipates accomplishing in 2019.

There is one objective – listed in Goal Five – that stands out above the rest. To that infrequent visitor, it may seem impossible but in fact, forms the endgame dream for what the residents and leaders of Coatesville want most to achieve: To market downtown Coatesville as a destination for living, working and recreation.

Imagine then, years from now, that infrequent visitor who drives through the new city of Coatesville. He will see a city renewed of spirit, of economy, of vision, and suddenly, it is our hope, that the vehicle he is driving does not drive through this town, but makes a hard left, directly into its reborn heart.

To learn more about the 2nd Century Alliance, visit