Let’s talk about the Broad Street Market.
The Broad Street Market is a community asset. Founded in 1860, it is one of the oldest continuously operating markets in the United States.
Not only does it provide the community with a variety of produce, meats, organic fruits and vegetables, and ready-made meals, it is a gathering place of residents and visitors.
Unfortunately, though, some people aren’t eager to go there.
In fact, I had never even stepped foot in the Market until last fall.
It just wasn’t on my radar.
Yet, after 23 years of living in Harrisburg, I finally went to the Market for the first time in October.
My initial impressions of the Broad Street Market were that the buildings were filthy and the products were expensive.
I knew I wasn’t the only one who had these impressions.
However, over time and frequent visits, I’ve realized that the Market is indeed providing Harrisburg with a unique place to dine, hangout and shop for groceries (that actually aren’t always more expensive than major grocery stores).
With my new attitude towards the Market in mind, I began to enjoy my regular visits. I ordered different foods and soon discovered favorites. While, the old buildings still give me a dank and not-s0-tidy vibe, I found that on the days the Market was closed, there were certain dishes that I craved.
Admittedly, my attitude towards the Market changed because I was being exposed to it in a different way. Because of my job I was required to go there at least once a week.
I don’t mean my job with today’s the day Harrisburg, but my job with tla Communications.
The Market is our client, and our goal is to improve the Broad Street Market’s internal and external communications, its public image and public outreach. Overall, we have been hired to recommend and implement changes that are reachable and beneficial to the Market and to the community, but we aren’t the only ones who are trying to make the Market better.
There are quite a few organizations, groups, and people who are trying to help the Broad Street Market improve. Entities such as the Broad Street Market Corporation, Historic Harrisburg Association, the City of Harrisburg, Broad Street Market Alliance, and of course, the mayoral-apponted Task Force are all working together with one goal in mind—to create a more successful and useful market place for the people of Harrisburg at the same time as making it a destination for travelers from afar.
Tonight, Mayor Eric Papenfuse’s Task Force will host a meeting to gather public input.
In January, Papenfuse held a press conference to announce the Task Force and its assignment to develop a plan for the outlines the purpose, structure, and vision of the Market.
Seven individuals were appointed to make up the Broad Street Market Task Force, each bringing their own skills to the table. The individuals include:
- Jonathan Bowser: Chair of the Broad Street Market Corporation and CEO at Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation
- Bill Fontana: Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Downtown Center
- Josh Kesler: Broad Street Market vendor and developer of the Millworks
- Jackie Parker: Director of the Department of Community and Economic Development for the City of Harrisburg
- Sylvia Rigal: Peer Professional at Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry
- Deborah Robinson: HR specialist and Administrator for ABEL Personnel
- Shawn Westhafer: lawyer and President of Friends of Midtown
Tonight’s public meeting is intended to get feedback on the Broad Street Market—everything from recommendations on the Market’s mission, hours of operation, vendor makeup, upkeep, and management.
As I know from my intimate work with the Market over the past few months, this central asset of the city has great potential. It also has great need. While, it will take a lot of hard work and dedication, the goal of making the Market a great place to purchase groceries, stop for lunch, or just hangout is doable.
After all, it’s been a part of the city for so long.
If you have ideas to help improve the Market, plan on attending the meeting tonight. Bring your thoughts, recommendations, and questions. Plan on voicing your perspective.
The more people who work together, the greater the hope for a successful and vibrant Broad Street Market.