Published first on the Progress News, October 5, 2020

I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know more about a few of our neighbors over this last month.  The potential for increased resilience in our agricultural sector is exciting!  Of course, agriculture is only one aspect of our regional redevelopment opportunity, and over the coming weeks and months we will explore the many facets of this beautiful community.  There is potential and inspiration everywhere!

This week I’d like to take a moment to talk about the ORA’s new redevelopment initiative itself.  Some of our readers may not be familiar with the concept of redevelopment or may think of it in terms of old-school “urban renewal.”  Redevelopment, though, is simply taking a deeper look at what we already have around us and figuring out how it can better serve our community.  That might mean helping our farmers gain a foothold in a new market niche, breathing new life into a vacant building, or adapting a service to meet changing needs, but at its core, redevelopment is building and nurturing the connections that make our community stronger, healthier, and more prosperous.

The Blueprint program – for which Emlenton, Foxburg and Parker make up the A-C Valley Blueprint Community – is a statewide redevelopment initiative aimed at helping smaller communities find their path to resilience.  After coming on board as the coordinator of the A-C Valley Blueprint program, I found that the connections needed to build the resilience of the Valley were connections that impacted and benefited this entire region.  Thankfully, our local Blueprint program is sponsored by the ORA, which itself has been evolving and finding new connections in its traditional duties for the Oil Heritage Region, so the expansion into a wider-focused official redevelopment effort was a logical and natural move. 

This doesn’t mean that the Blueprint program has gone away.  The FHLBank Pittsburgh Blueprint Initiative for the A-C Valley will be in place through 2024, and we continue to work on a number of local programs and projects, such as our community farm partnership with the A-C Valley School District and local brownfield remediation and redevelopment.  You can always stay up to date and get involved with what’s going on with the A-C Valley Blueprint program by checking out our website,!  

Redevelopment is continual, though, and even our immediate planning goes well past the next few years, so this new initiative within the ORA allows us to plan big and keep our momentum going, here in the Valley and all around the region.  We continue to strengthen ties between towns and counties, and across the state, and we are focused on projects that will provide equitable access to family-sustaining and purposeful jobs, innovative products and services, and cultural, recreational, and educational amenity, creating the quality of life we all want for our families, friends, and neighbors.

Next week we’ll take a closer look at educational redevelopment in our region, exploring how our schools have adapted to the challenges of 2020 and their plans for the future.  See you then!