Could College be Good Fit for Forest City?

FOREST CITY, Pa. -- For years, a community in Susquehanna County has been looking for something to boost its downtown. Folks in Forest City hope to attract a college campus to their downtown someday and came together to begin that effort on Wednesday.

Mayor Christopher Glinton led the way with representatives from Johnson College to a meeting of the minds at the Forest City Borough Building.

Inside, dozens of business and education leaders joined the discussion on whether the college could someday become part of Forest City's downtown.

"We need something in this town to draw young people, new blood, and I think this is a chance to see some growth in this town," Mayor Glinton said.

The mayor floated the idea and invited everyone to join in the discussion. Besides plenty of food from local restaurants, there's a ton of optimism for what partnering with the college in Scranton could mean for the region.

"If we can have them come to Forest City, even in a small way now, if we start small with offerings, who knows what that can expand into?" said Forest City Regional Superintendent Jessica Aquilina.

Talks with Johnson College about a potential satellite campus are very much in the infancy stages. However, in Forest City, there are a number of properties that are vacant looking for something to give a shot in the arm to the downtown.

"I'm a big believer in starting small, planting a seed, then watching it grow over the time, and I think with this kind of support it can happen in this community," said Johnson College President Katie Leonard.

"This area is a strong blue-collar kind of area. It's bred in us by our grandparents," John Mele said.

Mele runs a business and believes there's a lot of untapped talent in the area, and it's time to tap into that, maybe someday with Johnson College in Forest City.

"A lot of businesses we work with are looking for the same kind of people. They're the type of people at Johnson College," Mele said.

Forest City leaders hope this kind of enthusiasm leads to more official talks with the college down the road.