Just in time for Christmas, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has posted the names of 58 developers, industrial plants, corporate and nonprofit hospitals, museums, private colleges and other institutions that will share $133 million in state matching grants for favored projects across the Commonwealth. It’s the latest installment of the Redevelopment Authority Capital Program grants, a program that’s been popular with lawmakers and developers since the 1980s.
Pennsylvania plans to join a high-stakes competition for the chance to assemble the Boeing Co.’s new 777X jet, a competition that likely will require the players to pony up tax breaks and other economic incentives in hopes of winning.
The commonwealth intends to submit a proposal to Boeing by the deadline today in a bid to land the jetliner’s production and lure thousands of well-paying jobs from Everett, Wash.
“Any time there’s an opportunity to attract jobs and investment to the commonwealth, we’re certainly going to do that,” said Steven Kratz, spokesman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
But Pennsylvania hardly is alone. The competition for the assembly plant — and the 8,500 jobs it could create at its peak — is likely to be fierce. As many as 12 to 15 states received invitations from the Chicago-based jet manufacturer to bid for the plant, with the goal to start production of the 777X in 2017.
Pennsylvania’s business climate has improved to 18th best in the nation, according to Site Selection magazine.
The magazine’s annual top-25 ranking was published in its November issue.
Pennsylvania was unranked last year.
In the new ranking, Georgia was first, bumping last year’s leader, North Carolina, into second place.
A state’s ranking depends on its score on a multifaceted appraisal.
Tionesta’s long-vacant downtown will be given a jump-start this spring with the creation of the Tionesta Market Village. The Forest County IDA and IDC have partnered up and completed plans to establish this addition to the main street on the southern of the two IDA-owned lots, now known as the “Gazebo Lot”. This site will become the home of several custom-built small scale retail buildings designed to look like 1800s store fronts, fronted by a wide walkway for shoppers and offering a variety of small retail establishments.
While the IDA owns the property, the IDC is funding this project and is now searching for new start-ups or small home-based businesses looking to move into a small retail space. This is an attempt to fill two needs: providing small, high-visibility retail space to small businesses and making use of the vacant property until a permanent development is established.
“Over the past couple of years there have been several individuals that have expressed an interest in starting a small business in downtown Tionesta.” says Dick Johnson, owner of Forest Hardware in Tionesta and Vice President of the Forest County IDC. “Two of the biggest drawbacks are the lack of available space and the cost of building new.” He hopes that the Market Village will give those people an “economically feasible way to get their new ventures up and running.”
IDC president, Farley Wright, says “The project is a unique, low-risk, high potential reward grass roots effort to increase the attraction and traffic to the community. It’s an opportunity, without relying on governmental funding, to assist local folks as well as benefit our community.” In answer to why this type of use for the property, he adds “Sometimes you can’t wait for others to provide the solutions; and while there may be detractors (nay-sayers) to the project, I know of no one that has presented a better idea. We can support the effort and contribute to its success, or we can deride it and it may fail…….but at least we are doing something.”
This week’s 12th annual Southwestern Pennsylvania Smart Growth Conference will focus on three issues its organizers call “make or break” for the region: transportation funding, green infrastructure and urban redevelopment financing.
Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch will be a featured speaker at the event, scheduled for 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.
The General Assembly and Gov. Tom Corbett are expected to take up transportation funding in the coming session. Funding cutbacks and shortfalls have caused a decline in road quality across the state and threaten to arrest progress in repairing structurally deficient bridges.
Public transit systems, including the Port Authority of Allegheny County, have struggled financially and been forced to raise fares and reduce service.
The Corbett administration’s plan to allow counties to use a new block grant to pay for such key social services as drug and alcohol treatment and intellectual disabilities programs was one of the most contentious proposals of this year’s budget debate.
But with the money now up for grabs, county officials have apparently gotten over their reservations. Officials in 30 of the state’s 67 counties have applied for 20 available spots in the new block grant program. And funding recipients are set to be announced next month, the state Department of Public Welfare said this week.
Counties have “repeatedly asked for greater flexibility in human services funding” and the new program delivers it, Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander said in a statement. County governments had until Aug. 17 to apply for the funding.
Customers can already purchase wine at some farmers markets, and they could add craft beer to their shopping lists under a proposal in the state House.
The move could help craft brewers grow their business, Santoni said. Craft breweries are small, independent operations that produce much less beer than big-name breweries.
“It’s a niche market and it’s growing,” said Santoni, the Democratic chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee. “We’re trying to help.”