Downtown Johnstown has experienced a revitalization in recent years, and that trend will continue with the opening of Creator Square.
Leaders gathered Thursday to announce that construction will soon begin on the maker residency and maker space inside the historic Parkview Building at 134 Gazebo Park. It is expected to be in operation next spring.
According to its website, Creator Square is an “artisan residency program developed to stimulate urban revitalization, economic development and workforce training. Emerging leaders in the local and national maker community will be chosen for residencies lasting from two months to two years in duration. The program is designed to connect the dots between the region’s manufacturing heritage and contemporary advances in small batch manufacturing and maker space innovation.”
The idea was spearheaded by Paul Rosenblatt, of the Pittsburgh area, who “fell in love with Johnstown” while doing architectural consulting work here five years ago.
“I couldn’t get the city out of my mind,” he said.
Working with local resident Donald Bonk, Carnegie Mellon University, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission, Vision 2025 and Johnstown Area Regional Industries among others, Rosenblatt worked on plans and funding.
In February, Gov. Tom Wolf’s office announced Johnstown Industrial Development Corp., a subsidiary of JARI, received a $282,000 Keystone Communities grant to rehab the Parkview Building. Those funds were used as a match to U.S. Economic Development Administration money and coupled with support from private sources.
Rosenblatt said he envisions Creator Square attracting visionaries to Johnstown where they will start and grow businesses, make investment and drive tourism, foster civic engagement, build job skills and entrepreneurship and help define the community’s civic identity.
Emerging artisans/makers chosen by a committee through an application process will have access to shared equipment, exhibit their work and perform demonstrations and classes for the public and other participants in the program. Specialized equipment will be available for use from Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center, either at the Parkview Building or at the center in Richland Township.
Leaders see Creator Square making an economic impact on the region, as well as providing networking and entrepreneurial support to makers.
“We are growing our community by encouraging and fostering support for these small-batch manufacturers,” said Mike Kane, CFA’s president and executive director.
“The idea here is you’re going to see new faces.
“You’re going to see more activity because of the collective work.”
Added JARI President and CEO Linda Thomson: “Obviously, this is great revitalization work. This is a great investment in our downtown. This is also part of our entrepreneurial ecosystem. That’s something that we’re really excited about. We want to continue to build on that entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
The addition of Creator Square is exciting news for downtown Johnstown, and we welcome its efforts to reinvigorate the city.