Change is difficult, change is sometimes painful and scary, but change is sometimes absolutely necessary. I have been thrust into heading the "change" discussion on the local level. Why now? Why is it important to change now? Here are some reasons to consider:
Population Trends: It should be no surprise that we have been experiencing a steady population decline over the years. On the county level, Mercer County is experiencing a 3% drop in every ten years, according to U.S. Census data, a downward trend that has not changed over the past four decades. Greenville's exodus is even more dramatic. Greenville has seen a consistent loss of population over the past seven decades, at an average of 6% - 7% decrease every ten years. When you pair this with articles about urbanization trends with headlines projecting two billion more people will live in cities by 2035, it leaves me questioning how our small communities can possibly survive? U.S Census QuickFacts: Greenville & Mercer County
“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”
— Georg C. Lichtenberg
Economic Trends: Although Mercer County is actively competing for job creation and growth, it still is lagging behind when looking at national numbers of job growth, poverty levels, industry earnings, unemployment rates, and median household incomes. There are issues at the State level, making Pennsylvania a poor national competitor. Places like Greenville and Farrell have carried heavier burdens of the losses seen on the county level. With the economy stagnant in Greenville, compared to higher successes in larger cities, continued population decline is a given. Greenville's low cost of living is not enough to appeal to returning industry or other larger economic investments and ventures.
Can we make Greenville strong through small business? I believe it is possible today, through leveraging technology that is available, to market Greenville to the e-commerce savvy, small manufacturing entrepreneurs. It is important to be optimistic about future growth but recognizing the real current picture and trends motivates me to talk about change.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
— John F. Kennedy
Social Trends: I will say this over and over again. The sense of community is THE THING that makes Greenville special and worth being a part of. The current trend of community is concerning. The interplay of Technology and Politics has created a great rift. Not only does the next generation have difficulty communicating outside virtual reality, they are plagued with apathy because of the vitriol and hate that is constantly covered in the media cycle. This infection has spread to our little community. Maybe it has actually always been there, we just haven't let it get the best of us until now.
In order to be viable we have to adapt to a much different future than many of us were expecting. We have to change now in order for us to become more adaptable. We have to change now in order to be competitive again. We have to change now because it becomes much harder to veer from the current trajectory the further we go.
We have to change now because there will be a time soon when it will be too late.