Catherine Aiello//The Crown From left to right: Liam Holden, Arielle Belskis and Brandon Espinoza, students from Penn State Wilkes-Barre, sit in the Campus Center at King’s College to spread word of Wilkes-Barre’s nomination in America’s Best Communities competition.
Catherine Aiello//The Crown
From left to right: Liam Holden, Arielle Belskis and Brandon Espinoza, students from Penn State Wilkes-Barre, sit in the Campus Center at King’s College to spread word of Wilkes-Barre’s nomination in America’s Best Communities competition.

Wilkes-Barre City has made it into the quarter finalists to be America’s Best Community!, and students have helped make it possible.

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and Penn State Wilkes-Barre banded together to enter the contest.

The grand prize is $3 million, the second place prize is $2 million and the third place prize is $1 million.

The prizes will go toward the revitalization of the winning community. If Wilkes-Barre wins, they have a six part revitalization plan as follows:

 

1) Make the city safe, clean, and attractive

2.) “College neighborhood”

3) Walkability

4) Innovation

5) Historical Presentation

6) Center of Arts and Center of Entertainment

 

Since Wilkes-Barre has made it into the quarter finalists group, the city has been awarded $35,000 to define their campaign idea.

Their campaign idea is called the Community Revitalization Plan. This money goes to further development on that plan. In addition to this, the city was presented with a GoPro camera to document the adventure along the way.

A lot of hard work and time went into the Community Revitalization Plan.

Three students, Liam Holden, Arielle Belskis and Brandon Espinoza from Penn State, Wilkes-Barre, have been extremely involved in this process.

With the help from the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, the city of Wilkes-Barre, and the Diamond City Partnership, Wilkes-Barre has had numerous local businesses and non-profit organizations “hashtagging” (a social media phenomena, used to “tag” certain topics of discussion on the internet in an effort to track them) to push Wilkes-Barre to the next stage of the contest.

The students from Penn State University have been working hard to have a presence at most events taking place in the city – such as the local farmer’s market, car shows and WBL events – and have been reaching out to local businesses for support.

They have even made an impact on the Mayor of Wilkes-Barre, Thomas M. Leighton, and his wife, Patty Leighton, who recently posted a “hashtag” as a sign of support.

Local Wilkes-Barre businesses are all “hashtagging” to support Wilkes-Barre in becoming America’s best community and are showing their pride and support for the city, and students can join them.

It’s simple for local colleges and universities to come together and support the city that they live and study in. Students can join the campaign by making their social media accounts public and posting the following hashtags: #abc50 #PSU1 #KingsCollege.

The round that ends in November consists of a video contest and social media engagement.

The Semi-Finalist round will begin in January. This will entail a detailed presentation to a panel of judges. The communities that move into this stage are awarded an invitation to the America’s Best Communities Summit, with airfare and accommodation for three people to attend.

The final round will consist of submitting 10 selections of the city’s unedited GoPro video content, comprised of any or all of the following: three quarterly updates on progress, a final report, press releases, press events and complete a Winner’s Agreement.

The final three winners will not only receive the money toward revitalization of their community, but they will also receive an original outdoor mural showcasing the vibrancy of their community painted by a local artist and a sign labeling the city as an America’s Best Communities winner.

Frontier Communications, Dish Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel sponsor the America’s Best Community contest. The contest is focused on a better tomorrow for the United States.

“With the assistance of CoalCreative digital marketing agency,” says Meghan Flannigan, the Grant Coordinator in the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, “the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber has been producing videos and engaging in a social media campaign to highlight the resources in our area, document our progress towards those seven revitalization goals, and engage the community.”