Sharon Named to Sweet 16 for ‘Strongest Town’ Honor

SHARON, Pa. – Strong Towns, a nonprofit focused on community development, has named Sharon, Pa., as one of the 16 finalists for its annual Strongest Town honor.

A winner will be selected through a voting bracket. Sharon faces Pittsburg, Kan., in the first round, which runs through March 12. Voting is available here and will open March 10.

“Sharon has a low-cost model that really works for incubating businesses,” said Sharon revitalization developer James Landino, CEO of JCL Energy, in a statement. “We have also discovered a super work force readily available in the area.  We could have gone anywhere but we chose Sharon because the community is on board with re-electrifying itself.”

“Any effort to revitalize a community requires three active components; art initiatives, private investment, and an engaged citizen base. We are extremely fortunate that Sharon has all three firing on all cylinders right now,” said Bill Dodd, Sharon Mapping Initiative coordinator and volunteer, in a statement.

After the bracket has been narrowed to two towns, Strong Towns will host a webcast debate between the finalists to discuss their towns. The audience will vote for a winner March 30 to April 2.

The winning town will accept the award at the inaugural National Strong Towns Conference and Celebration April 30 and May 1 in Pensacola, Fl.

“Any effort to revitalize a community requires three active components; art initiatives, private investment, and an engaged citizen base. We are extremely fortunate that Sharon has all three firing on all cylinders right now,” said Bill Dodd, Sharon Mapping Initiative coordinator and volunteer, in a statement.

Among Sharon’s accomplishments cited by Strong Towns are regular meetings between citizens and the Community & Economic Development Department,  the success of WaterFire Sharon, the Sharon Mapping Initiative’s status as the largest crowd-sourced collection event in the state, and the investment of nearly $140 million in public and private money over the past five years.

Other finalists towns are Abingdon, Va.; Athens, Ohio; Beloit, Wisc.; Chubbock, Idaho; Haifa, Israel; Hamilton, Mo.; Highland Park, Ill; Lander, Wyo.; Streator, Ill.; Sylvania, Ohio; Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; Watertown, S.D.; Winona, Mo.; and Wytheville, Va.

Previous winners of the Strongest Town award are Muskegon and Traverse City, Mich.; Carlisle, Pa. and Pensacola. 

Founded as a blog by Charles Maorhn in 2008, Strong Towns is a nonprofit publishing platform advocating “ a radically new way of thinking about the way we build our world.” Among its pillars of community success are “stop valuing efficiency and start valuing resilience,” “stop fearing changing and start embracing a process of continuous adaptation” and “stop betting our futures on huge, irreversible projects, and start taking small, incremental steps and iterating based on what we learn.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.