‘Work from Here’ marketing initiative aims to sell Scranton

‘Work from Here’ marketing initiative aims to sell Scranton as published by the Scranton Times on July 23, 2020 by Jeff Horvath

 

Aiming to attract remote workers, a new marketing strategy seeks to sell Scranton as an affordable alternative to more expensive metropolises.

The “Work from Here” initiative, which city officials created in-house, capitalizes on Scranton’s relatively low rents, residential housing prices and overall cost of living, billing the city as a convenient bedroom community to New York and Philadelphia ideal for those able to work partly or entirely from home.

“I want them to know that we’re here and we’re ready to grow,” Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti said. “We have the space to grow. We have great amenities. We have great outdoor activities. We’ve got good schools. And we really think (the marketing campaign) can be something to help the city grow.”

A beta version of the marketing pitch, available online at scrantonworks.org, touts the city’s location and highlights various amenities and events, from the Nay Aug waterfalls and holiday lights to the St. Patrick’s Parade and La Festa Italiana.

Former Mayor Wayne Evans, owner of Wayne Evans Realty, has sold real estate in Scranton for about 15 years. The coronavirus pandemic, he said, created an opportunity to court people paying sky-high rent in big cities to work from home.

“Obviously at some point in time hopefully we’ll have some normalcy, but you’re still going to see a large percentage of people … working from home or at least working from home part time,” Evans said, adding that young professionals want to live in walkable urban environments with accessible restaurant and retail options. “So we’re in a great position to try to attract those type of residents.”

Many of those people are already flocking to the Electric City, said Jessica Kalinoski, director of operations for Admiral Management Services, which manages developer Charles Jefferson’s downtown Scranton properties. They’re attracted largely by Scranton’s affordable housing opportunities and proximity to Philadelphia, New York and other areas where the cost of living can be prohibitively expensive, she said.

“You’re getting a 500-square-foot apartment out there for $2,000 (a month), or even more than that,” Kalinoski said. “For $2,000 (a month), you can get a 1,200-square-foot apartment in Scranton.”

Of the 10 people who have committed to renting apartments at the former Stoehr & Fister Building when Jefferson completes his $14.5 million retrofit of the downtown landmark, Kalinoski said six are moving to Scranton from outside the area and can work from home.

Others who fit that profile already live in Jefferson’s high-end, downtown apartments at Samters Lofts, 426 Mulberry and Connell Lofts, she said.

Beyond just downtown living, Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce President Bob Durkin said the city offers opportunities to live in a more suburban setting or in stately historic homes. It also offers a wealth of amenities for people with a broad range of tastes and interests.

“One of the things I often talk about is, if you lived in downtown Scranton, what do you like to do in your free time?” Durkin said. “Is it skiing? Is it baseball? Is it golf? Is it riding a bike? Is it hiking? Is it culture? It’s either here or it’s within 10 minutes (of here).”

Durkin lauded the new marketing initiative, noting the Scranton Plan, the chamber’s economic development marketing affiliate, has been pursuing the same concept. Scranton and Lackawanna County expatriates who may still have family in the area are another group officials can possibly woo back with the right messaging and a targeted strategy selling the city, he said.

City officials plan to promote the Scranton pitch via free social media campaigns, including a series of Instagram posts showing people working remotely in attractive Scranton settings. Officials also hope to engage community partners to amplify the message, Cognetti said.