80-year-old Dave Pottinger has spent the last 10 years in earnest working to revitalize downtown Goshen.
His first project, though, started exactly 25 years ago Thursday. That date marked opening day for a renovated South Side Soda shop – Pottinger’s idea.
Back in 2007, the Food Network came to town to profile the diner, and ever since folks have been streaming in from around the country to try their food and sodas.
"One of the original sandwiches Dave brought to the menu is the New England Cheeseburger,” said Nick Boyd, who happens to be Pottinger’s son-in-law and who runs the soda shop with Pottinger’s daughter.
"Dave Pottinger had a vision to re-open it, restore it,” adds Boyd.
And 25 years later, it’s clear Pottinger’s vision for Goshen never stopped.
"We're trying to turn it into a community where our local people don't have to go out of town for what they want, whether it's food or entertainment or community gathering,” said Pottinger as he took a break from his latest project on Goshen's South Main Street.
He is a developer and landlord to some 14 properties in Goshen’s downtown, a city with no vacancies.
Many credit Pottinger for that impressive statistic.
"If he had never come to Goshen, we wouldn't be anywhere close to where we are now, as far as our downtown,” said Mayor Allan Kauffman.
Pottinger has also helped the city with streetscaping projects by organizing volunteers to put bricks and plants on every corner and complete the projects cheaply.
LaCasa, Inc., of Goshen, a group focused on improving lives and neighborhoods, was so impressed with Pottinger that they nominated him for a national award – The Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership – which he won.
"David is a good example of what one person can do, and how one person has a ripple effect in the community and inspires others to do similar work,” said Julia King with LaCasa.
Goshen’s mayor says he speaks with other mayors who are impressed with Pottinger as well.
"Everybody would like to have a Dave Pottinger in their city, and they keep telling me that they want to steal him away, and I say no, Dave bleeds Goshen, and we want him to stay here!” said mayor Kauffman, smiling.
Dave and his son-in-law Jeremy Stutsman, who is a council member and also Dave’s business partner, credit the community for supporting their projects.