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Over 100 people came to the historic State Theatre in Johnstown on Wednesday night, eager to hear the plans for Visit Johnstown’s new brand direction and the revitalization of Main Street. Eric Reighard of the State Theatre Foundation greeted the enthusiastic crowd with news about the expected upgrades to the theatre, including an Imax theatre coming in the next few years. Eric and his family volunteers made sure there was plenty of free popcorn, candy bars, and beverages to keep the crowd happy. 

Mayor of Johnstown Frank Janakovic gave an update on the city’s exit from Act 47 and commented on how pleased he is that all aspects of the plan are coming together, with all parties working closely together. Other guest speakers were Mike Kane, president of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Lisa Rager, Executive Director of Visit Johnstown/Brand Leadership team, and John Dubnansky, from the City of Johnstown.

The rebranding of Johnstown is the result of an extensive effort that has been taking shape over the last several years. A grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies gave Visit Johnstown the necessary funds to hire Roger Brooks from the Destination Development Association. Roger Brooks, the founding member of the DDA, is a top-rated keynote speaker with a passion for coming to communities as a change agent expert–to get things moving in the right direction and to get everyone, locally, on the same page, pulling in the same direction.  

After many meetings with key stakeholders and the community, the Brand Leadership Team developed a fivefold plan for Johnstown, with the revitalization of the downtown as a top priority. Why? Much like the European city model, Johnstown will become a community living room – full of life and activity, especially after work and on weekends. A top priority of millennials is life after 6 p.m., not the bar scene. The downtown area will have an open plaza, with 250 plus days per year of music, food, and performing arts.

During the assessment, Brooks’ team determined some unique aspects of our community that we can build upon to fulfill the brand plan. They include our outstanding recreational assets, forging new pathways in the performing and visual arts, and the opportunity to create a beautiful downtown that becomes a Pennsylvania showcase.  The goals of the rebranding plan are: 

  1. To increase the population of Johnstown
  2. To put Johnstown “on the map” as a desirable place to live, work, visit, and raise a family
  3. To set Johnstown apart from the other 1,100 communities in PA and neighboring states
  4. To slow the leakage of locally-earned money spent in other communities such as Pittsburgh
  5. To make downtown Johnstown a vibrant, active gathering place

The primary brand direction is “Recreation – with a major twist!”. The focus will be on the incredible experiences that elevate Johnstown above the competition including:

Boots, pedals & paddles, with Johnstown’s hiking trails, water trails, and hiking trails connecting locals and visitors to downtown Johnstown.

Trails through history and art, with the Iron to Arts Corridor connecting Johnstown’s history to modern art and artisans who call Johnstown home.

Using recreation with a focus on environmental stewardship.

To view the entire library of branding information, including the detailed action plan and timing, visit:

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