Sept. 18, 2012
Erie - Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary C. Alan Walker today toured Erie's Little Italy where he applauded the collaboration between the public and private sectors to significantly improve the local community by reducing blight and renovating existing buildings.
"Strong communities define quality of life and play an important role in determining the success of local and regional economies," said Walker. "The partnership formed to revive this community in Erie will lead to new economic growth and jobs for the people that live here."
The Little Italy Neighborhood was DCED's first designated Keystone Elm Street community. Over the years, as housing options changed in the neighborhood, Little Italy began to experience an increase in vacant and abandoned homes. The program, which will be administered by the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network, plans to renovate many existing housing units, construct new units, and attract commercial businesses into the area.
"Communities that are able to secure private sector support by forging public-private partnerships will achieve long-term success," Walker said. "The Corbett administration will continue to support projects that embrace neighborhood collaboration and establish long-term plans for sustainability."
Little Italy is a culturally diverse neighborhood, rich in history with a wealth of assets and resources. The Sisters of Saint Joseph (SSJ) Neighborhood Network, in partnership with DCED, is focused on improving the neighborhood through the Neighborhood Partnership Program.
In addition to the Elm Street designation, DCED has awarded two contracts for tax credits to the SSJ Neighborhood Network. The first is intended to revitalize Little Italy by improving the community's appearance and expanding economic development options. The second will fund faade improvements for neighborhood businesses, remove blight, and administer street lighting and sidewalk repair.
Accompanied by community and economic development professionals from the region, Walker took a trolley tour of recent, ongoing and potential projects in Erie. Later in the day, Walker traveled to Crawford County to visit the Channellock Plant, tour the Titusville Opportunity Park, and participate in the ribbon cutting and tour of the Titusville town square building.
Walker's visit to Erie continued DCED on the Road, a series of events across Northwestern Pennsylvania to discuss Corbett's vision for community enhancement and private sector job growth. DCED representatives will be spending three days, Sept. 17-19, traveling throughout Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Lawrence, Venango, Clarion, Forest and Warren counties, meeting with community, economic development and tourism partners.
The DCED on the Road initiative is being funded and supported by the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, a private non-profit partnership with the commonwealth.