Jim Thorpe touted as model for Pa. tourism
State Sen. Dave Argall has long been a fan of Jim Thorpe’s transformation from a sleepy coal town to a thriving tourist destination.
On Monday afternoon, Argall, along with state Rep. Doyle Heffley, shared Jim Thorpe’s success story with Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development Secretary Rick Siger and others during a downtown walking tour.
“Jim Thorpe has transformed from a town that was deteriorating and empty in the 1970s and 1980s into a national model of success and have breathed new life into this town,” Argall said. “We are excited today to have some of the top tourism officials in the state here to see the results firsthand.”
Siger is in the first year of his role as DCED secretary in Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration. Monday marked his first trip to Jim Thorpe.
“It’s still fairly early in my term, but I can easily see why this place is packed with tourists,” Siger said. “The leaders here had a vision in the 1970s and 1980s of what they wanted Jim Thorpe to be. A lot of investments were made by both public and private sector folks to help bring that vision to reality. I feel strongly this is a model we can replicate across the Commonwealth in other communities.”
Stops on Monday’s tour included the Mauch Chunk Opera House, downtown train station, Race Street, and more.
Siger also stopped on the $4.1 million Mansion House Pedestrian Bridge, built almost exclusively with state funding, to talk with Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency President James Dougher.
Argall called Jim Thorpe a national model on how to breathe new life into a small town.
“We’ll be meeting with 60 or 70 people from Jim Thorpe and surrounding communities to essentially ask the question: How can other communities learn from what has worked so well here?” Argall said. “If our communities can work together, that is to the benefit of everyone.”
Jim Thorpe’s proximity to outdoor recreation paired with a “charming main street,” Siger said, has helped it create a playbook that other areas can try to replicate.
“There are places with tremendous outdoor assets that we can continue to leverage,” he said. “There are ski areas and white-water rafting all across Pennsylvania. Jim Thorpe has done it right. There are challenges ahead, but this is a place we can look to as a model as the Shapiro administration develops our tourism initiatives.”