With all the press coverage of the Sandusky scandal and subsequent NCAA and Big Ten sanctions, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone who we (the community)
are, as well as who we arent.
Lets start with who we are not. We are not the perpetrators. We are not defined by the Sandusky scandal. Yes, it was horrific, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families, but the action of others does not define who we are as a community. This is still the same great place to visit, to live, to work and to raise a family.
A group of individuals from the business community recently met to discuss what we could do to move forward. Following is a synopsis of that meeting:
We need to tell our story. That story is about all the great things that exist in State College, the Centre Region and Centre County. We need to do the same about Penn State. Its time to break the silence.
Horrendous acts occurred and need to be acknowledged and corrected. At the same time we need to acknowledge what is good; Penn States rich academic history, research successes and the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, Thon, as well as local groups and residents that work to combat violence, like the Centre County Womens Resource Center.
We need to come together as a community; all groups and individuals, and speak in a unified voice the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County and Downtown Improvement District, among others, all need to work together. We need to look into a campaign of crisis management to counter the negativity.
We need to continue to work on broadening an economy that is not just dependent on football or Penn State for that matter. At the same time the reality is that football is now a big part of the economy and the economy will be hurt by whatever happens. We need to work to get as many people to the football games as possible, while at the same touting the great things about the region.
We need to make the area a destination on football weeks by holding other events in conjunction with the games to create a complete experience so that people are encouraged to come to the area. Hold other events during the course of the year that bring people into the area. We cant hold an arts festival every month but perhaps small events that boost the area economically.
We need a strategy and short-and long-term objectives and in conjunction with Penn State.
But were not done yet. More meetings will follow and input is welcome. We will keep you updated as plans unfold and in the meantime if you have ideas please let us know.
Working together, we will get through this and come out an even stronger community and that is who we are.
Betsey Howell is the executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau.