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ShopMP app envy

| Monday, June 4, 2018, 8:49 p.m.
A Doughboy statue was erected in Mt. Pleasant after World War I to honor the town’s military contributions. The monument is in the middle of the Diamond on West Main Street.
Tribune-Review file
A Doughboy statue was erected in Mt. Pleasant after World War I to honor the town’s military contributions. The monument is in the middle of the Diamond on West Main Street.

While its streets and sidewalks are tossed to and fro during an $11 million renovation, downtown Mt. Pleasant businesses wonder how they might hold the interest of both bargain hunters and loyal patrons.

As it turns out, there's an app for that.

Work that began last summer will enhance the length of the east-west thoroughfare that is home to everything from century-old Levin Furniture and the glass-paneled Key Bank in the center of town to the barbecue at Gorky's Smokin' Grill at the east end. Sidewalks, pavement and road signs are all in various stages of placement and repair.

And until the work concludes this fall, the downtown will sometimes fall well short of patron-friendly.

Enter the business district authority, which two weeks ago turned ShopMP loose in the app stores for download on your mobile device. Featuring a kitschy splash screen with a World War I doughboy lifting a smart phone of his own, the app presents a directory, events and featured business of the day.

The effort, authority members hope, will be a valuable tool for shoppers and diners.

For those weary of turnpike tolls, Mt. Pleasant is something of a gateway to the Laurel Highlands, and its downtown has long been among the more robust in the big box store and Amazon era. The good fortune of its location is complemented by infrastructure investment and community support that might be the envy of the region.

Work on a comprehensive plan for Westmoreland County includes the notion that the county might be divided into regional districts with common challenges and opportunities. The effort by Mt. Pleasant to boost attraction to its downtown — and the cost of that effort — seems to us a perfect candidate for what could be a regional approach.

So we applaud the introduction of ShopMP to the digital community with a suggestion that the approach be shared with other small towns.

It is our hope that downtown business districts will long be able to complement the big box and mail order strengths with the wisdom and charm to be found at Hayden's Pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant or Bortz Hardware in Greensburg or Gatto Cycle in Tarentum.

Our region's downtowns have found themselves in remarkably similar circumstances as each is impacted by broad industrial and economic change.

Applying a creative, sharply focused response to that change such as that found in the ShopMP app would serve many communities well.

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