I write today to express concern about recent actions taken in the Pennsylvania State Senate on Senate Bill 850. Specifically, I am most concerned about the decision to eliminate funding under the Department of Community and Economic Development’s New Communities Main Street and Elm Street programs. Philipsburg needs these cuts to be restored back to the level proposed in the governor’s 2009-2010 proposed budget. Without the ongoing support of the New Communities programs, my work and the hard work of countless other community advocates will be greatly hampered. Philipsburg cannot afford to take steps backward after making critical progress in our revitalization efforts.
Revitalization activities, such as Main Street and Elm Street, are the smartest strategies for investing in communities. The economic figures reflect this. In 2008, Main Street programs across the commonwealth helped to create 787 net new businesses, 1,170 net new full-time equivalent jobs, 366 building improvements and construction projects, 135 public space improvements and fill 274 vacant storefronts. Additionally, from the roughly $6 million invested by the commonwealth through the New Communities program, roughly $59 million was invested by the private sector. In total, Main Street programs across the commonwealth were responsible for helping to create $73.6 million in new investment (data provided by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center). All of this happened while Pennsylvania’s economy was losing jobs, investments were down and businesses forced to close. The work of the Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation is a critical component to restoring prosperity to Pennsylvania. Without funding in 2009-2010, these investments will go away.
Philipsburg currently is a designated Main Street Program. In 10 years, our revitalization efforts received close to $500,000. During the course of these years, we were able to implement a façade program, community marketing efforts, special events, business recruitment and retention activities, streetscape projects and more. These projects leveraged over $2 million in private investment and over $2 million other public funds. In total, $4.5 was invested by the public and private sector. Additionally, since the beginning of our program, we have seen 97 net new jobs created, 35 net new businesses created, 29 building projects and 13 vacant storefronts filled. Finally, we have recorded over 5,000 volunteer hours worth approximately$88 thousand. We have demonstrated our value to the community and simply ask the General Assembly to fund the ongoing efforts in Philipsburg and across the commonwealth.
As the manager of the Philipsburg Main Street Program, I am proud of the work accomplished thus far in Philipsburg. In order to ensure our ongoing success, we need support in restoring the funding for the New Communities program. At this time, we are asking you to contact your legislators and ask them to commit to supporting this funding. We also need you to forward a letter to Senators Scarnati, Pileggi and Corman to voice your support for the restoration of New Community funding.
Program Manager, MVEDP
Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation, Inc.