Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2017



When Christina Carbone Marsh was a Mercyhurst senior in 1988, she used her accounting skills as part of a service project to help revive a downtown Erie business that had fallen on hard times. A fre had wreaked havoc on the business’s data systems and she remembers going downtown twice a week to help build an online accounting system and a point-of-sale platform on the company computer. Today, Marsh fnds herself once again in the revival business, but on a far grander scale than she had ever anticipated. She is part of a growing network of business, community and academic leaders intent on transforming downtown Erie into a vibrant and thriving region, complete with family-sustaining jobs, appealing housing, local shops, entertainment and other amenities, all within a walkable environment. Marsh works with the recently formed Erie Downtown Development Corp. (EDDC), led by Erie Insurance CEO Tim NeCastro, to build a coalition of private businesses interested in investing in downtown through public- private partnerships, real estate development and favorable fnancing opportunities. As chief community and economic development ofcer at Erie Insurance, As a newly minted Mercyhurst trustee, she sees the nexus between the EDDC’s mission and that of the Mercyhurst-led Downtown Erie Innovation District, which also partners with Erie Insurance, along with Velocity Network and McManis & Monsalve Associates. The goal of the innovation district is to combine the talent from anchor institutions to build partnerships across sectors, transforming Erie into an innovation hub that attracts new business, funding and investment.

As of press time, the innovation district was on the threshold of announcing a CEO, and the EDDC was not far behind in announcing its chief executive, both of whom will lead their respective initiatives and take advantage of this historic window of opportunity. “This is an exciting time for Erie; you can feel the momentum building,” said Marsh. “I think everyone has come to realize that doing nothing leads to inertia. We need leadership and resources and that’s why we have taken these steps.” As part of her work, Marsh is studying similar cities that have reaped the rewards of downtown revitalization eforts. She recently witnessed Cincinnati’s rejuvenated center city, and earlier this year she and Mercyhurst Provost David Dausey were among an entourage that traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to see frsthand its downtown innovation district. “When you see what other cities have done, you can just imagine what we can do in Erie,” Marsh said. “We have so much to capitalize on. We don’t want to be Anywhere, USA. We want local retail, local cofee houses; we want what makes Erie Erie. And it starts with us, the residents. The visitors will come, and our children will want to stay.” Yes, she admits to being personally invested. Born and raised in Long Island, Marsh came to Mercyhurst after an admissions counselor inspired her with pictures of the campus during a college fair at her high school. “It was so beautiful and there was so much greenery and open spaces,” she said. “You don’t often see that in Long Island.” After earning her accounting degree at Mercyhurst, she stayed in Erie, taking her frst job at Ernst & Young and working on projects


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