Centering the efforts around Central Park

The Central Park Square capture team launched in spring of 2016 looking for ways to promote existing business efforts in the region. The team soon realized that it needed to define a targeted focus area, and it narrowed in on looking at marketing efforts related to Central Park and the buildings and businesses contiguous to the park — 24 entities total.

The team wants to establish a community of building and business owners that it can collaborate with to advance marketing of Central Park Square’s assets as a retail and residential destination. It has set for itself one simple and humble goal: through collaboration with City Hall, the business community, and others, the team wants to help three new storefront businesses establish around Central Park.

Ryan Kieta, Vision 2025 project consultant said, “Central Park Square has been identified by numerous experts as ‘ground zero’ for business development efforts in the city. The progress that this team has made in just a year on the marketing and community fronts is remarkable and really accelerates the potential for economic growth downtown.”

During Showcase for Commerce this year, the team participated in PITTchFEST ‘17. After presenting to a panel of local business and economic experts, the team took home $2,000 and first prize in the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation category.

PITTchFEST allowed the team to host an August Central Park Square Gathering at soon-to-be-opened Stonebridge Brewery. Existing businesses around the square were eager to participate and support the event, with sponsorship from Ameriserv, Ems Sub Shop, Lambcakes, The Press Bistro, and The Tower of Pizza. The event was attended by over forty business owners and many local leaders – a group that had never before come together to talk about issues and opportunities that the downtown small business community faces. Participants overwhelmingly indicated a desire to continue to build on what has been started as well as suggestions for moving forward.

Katie Kinka, Senior Planner with the Cambria County Planning Commission and a team leader said, “We are a marketing resource for the business owners who have established themselves as successful pioneers of downtown, despite Johnstown’s fluctuating economic climate. We want them to continue to succeed, so we have organized ourselves as a vehicle for helping achieve long-term visions and development goals.”

“Our focus has been to consolidate and revamp the critical marketing tools that the City and local stakeholders already have in place. Support from the city and local partners has been instrumental in allowing us to establish a solid foundation from which to work, and determine how we can be the most effective in our endeavors .”

One example of “community” that the team is helping to foster: food leftovers from its August event were donated to Franklin Street Church for its weekly community “Broken Dinner”.

“Central Park is ground zero in Johnstown’s revitalization and rebranding efforts.  Once we begin looking at Central Park differently, we will be able to look at Johnstown differently and see the potential. It’s there, all we have to do is look for it and take ownership of it.”  – Paula Tomko


For more information on the Central Park Square capture team, contact Katie Kinka at

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