Harrisburg’s new department focused on economy

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse wasted no time rolling out his new administration.

On Friday, he wrapped up a week of appointments by announcing a new department focused on economic development.

“This has been an invigorating and exciting week,” said Papenfuse.

The newly inaugurated mayor was eager to unveil what could be his signature move as a city leader. Papenfuse chose to restructure the departments and introduce a new Community and Economic Development Department.

Papenfuse will roll the former departments of Building & Housing and Parks, Recreation & Enrichment under the new umbrella.

Jackie Parker, the former Lebanon City mayor and executive director of the Chester Economic Authority, was named director of the new department.

“I believe Harrisburg is ready to move forward,” said Parker.

Roy Christ will head the Building & Housing Office within the department. He took a moment to conduct “old business.”

“Look around and say thank you,” he said, pointing to a bevy of city workers watching the news conference from the various floors above. “These folks have worked tirelessly in a climate that was almost unimaginable.”

There was an overall theme of moving forward and “changing the way things were done in the past,” according to Papenfuse.

Part of the change was naming Lenwood Sloan to oversee the duties of the new Arts, Culture, & Tourism office. The responsibilities will include and expand what Dr. Brenda Alton did during the Thompson administration.

“We're going to integrate, agitate and move forward as full citizens of the cultural community,” Sloan said.

Papenfuse said these three components will focus on job growth and opportunities, building better business relationships, and increasing community awareness.

“A new collaborative partnership can emerge, which is the best way to generate the city's success,” Papenfuse said.

Part of that new partnership will include the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC. President Dave Black said his board approved funding Parker's $90,000 salary for the first two years, $45,000 the following two years until Harrisburg has enough time to allocate funds to pay for the new position.

“We believe in the economic development in the city,” Black said. “The city is the hub of our region. If the hub is strong, the entire region is strong.”

Papenfuse said a portion of the funding was outlined in the Harrisburg Strong recovery plan. A committee will be named to discuss projects that can both be approved by Harrisburg City Council and the Receiver's Office.

The mayor said some funding will also come from the incinerator host fee. Although Papenfuse said there has been a flood of ideas, he did not talk specifics.

On Tuesday, he said a comprehensive plan would be discussed during the city council meeting. Papenfuse will also seek approval for department changes and position appointments.

“We talked about a lot of ideas for the city of Harrisburg,” Papenfuse said. “Now, it's time to get the right people in place to do the work.”


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