Erie has seen some negative publicity, following a national CBS special news report, about the reality of manufacturing loss in our community.
But many leaders are looking to some of the growth, and positive things happening here.

One of those big projects is the Innovation District.

Erie News Now first told you about Erie's Innovation District, back in October, when Mercyhurst University received a $4 Million dollar grant to spearhead the plans, from the Erie Community Foundation.

Innovation Districts can transform cities into innovation hubs, attracting new businesses, creating good-paying jobs, and in turn transforming economies. 

We sat down with Dr. David Dausey, Mercyhurst University Provost and Vice President for academic affairs.

He's done a lot of research on innovation districts, and has taken the lead in developing one here in Erie, "The message for Erie right now is incredibly positive. There's been a lot of negative news stories about Erie, but the reality is there's a half a billion dollars worth of investment going into downtown Erie in the next two years, and the Innovation District is going to be part of that," said Dr. Dausey.

Dr. Dausey says the Innovation District will focus on jobs around safety, security and cyber security, "These are new economy jobs, and there is right now especially on a national stage an obsession with old economy jobs, manufacturing etc. We're talking about new jobs, new economy, family sustaining wages, developing products that may be in the Cloud rather than ones that you pack things in a truck and ship them somewhere, and we're we're quite confident that Erie is in a good place to move in that new economy," said Dr. Dausey.

Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper is excited to see it coming together, "Erie county is growing, we are churning, we are finding our own way forward, and we have to remake ourselves and we are doing that, we are coming together in ways I don't think I've seen in decades," said Dahlkemper.  "The collaboration you're seeing amongst all entities has been very very positive. And I've been seeing this going on for a couple years, but I think people are really beginning to see this through the plans that we put together, and then the action from those plans. It's not just about plans, but it's how we put them into action; business are working with government, are working with nonprofits to make that happen," Dahlkemper continued.

Plans for the Innovation District are moving forward. Mercyhurst University is currently looking for a President and CEO of the Innovation District, and leaders are meeting twice a month to plan. They've also developed an important partnership, "We have partnered with the Brookings Institution, which is a national leader on innovation districts. They're kind of like a hub for innovation districts, not just in the United States but internationally," said Dr. Dausey.

Once they pinpoint a physical location, Dr. Dausey says they expect to start attracting hundreds of good-paying jobs, within the next one to two years.