PHILADELPHIA-Eleven older suburbs will work with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission on Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia, a marketing program intended to promote residential and business growth in these communities. With the launch of the website earlier this week, the DVRPC hopes to start raising awareness of communities that homeowners and businesses have frequently overlooked in recent years.

“We’re getting a lot of growth in Center City and certainly a lot of growth in emerging suburbs, but a lot of the inner-ring older suburbs were struggling with loss of jobs and loss of residents,” Barry Seymour, executive director of the DVRPC, tells “There were a few that were doing their own marketing, but we realized that with so many communities in our region and each one trying to get their own message out, they would get lost. So we created the Classic Towns umbrella to help them market together.”

Eight of the inaugural “classic towns” are in Pennsylvania: Ambler in Montgomery County; Bristol and Doylestown in Bucks County; Lansdowne and Media in Delaware County; West Chester in Chester County; and the Philadelphia neighborhoods of Manayunk and Overbrook Farms. Also included are three New Jersey communities: Collingswood, Haddon Heights and Riverton. Each will kick in $2,500 per year to help fund the program, matched by DVRPC, Seymour says.

“We’ll be working one on one with communities to help them promote their own programs, but then they also will learn a lot from each other,” he says. “We’ll have different forums and workshops where we bring them together. They can share success stories and learn from one another about what works and doesn’t.”

Seymour tells that DVRPC is also working with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce through its Select Greater Philadelphia, a business marketing program. “If you’re a tourist who wants to visit the Philadelphia region, there’s great information through the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corp. If you’re a business looking at the Philadelphia region, the Select Greater Philadelphia website is a great resource on business information and labor force and demographics. But nobody was marketing specific communities”—a niche the Classic Towns program is intended to fill.

Mark Schweiker, president and CEO of the chamber, tells the Classic Towns program’s intention is “to attract people moving from other parts of the country or those starting a business. This goal aligns with the efforts of the chamber and of Select Greater Philadelphia—the chamber’s regional, economic development-marketing affiliate—to position Greater Philadelphia as a first-tier place to do business.”

The website will be the initial focal point, including web advertising designed to draw traffic to the site. Eventually there will be print ads in markets outside the region, including Baltimore and Brooklyn, NY, both of which have seen some residential migration to the Philadelphia region, says Seymour. “They may know about Center City or the downtown neighborhoods, but they may not know about some of these smaller places.”

From a residential standpoint, Classic Towns was developed to appeal to three target markets: young professional/childless couples, young families and empty nesters, according to a news release. “These communities have a great mix of housing types, both large and small,” Seymour tells “But they also have vibrant Main Streets, and therefore opportunities for retail. In some cases they have larger industrial properties, so there may be opportunities for larger commercial or industrial as well.”

Down the road, the DVRPC hopes to expand the base of communities participating in the program, although its initial focus will be the original 11. Seymour says the DVRPC had already gotten inquiries from eight or nine communities within about 24 hours of the website’s launch on Monday. “As the program gets noticed, and as communities see value to it, we’ll look to pull them in. But we’ll have some criteria that define these communities, and probably some form of application and selection process.”

Asked how the Classic Towns program’s success will be measured, Seymour tells, “the bottom line is that we want to see some more positive growth in these communities. To the extent that we’re seeing more housing sales, more businesses on Main Street and more interest among local brokers—that will be a good measure of success.”

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