PA House passes Freeman bill to allow Main Street program participation to be extended

HARRISBURG, June 6 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed legislation that would allow communities to extend their participation in the state’s Main Street program for up to a total of 10 years, according to the bill’s author Rep. Robert Freeman.

“A community’s Main Street initiative often just gets started with implementing its revitalization plan when the funding ends, undermining the ability to realize the plan’s objectives. With the addition of this needed option of a program extension, communities would be better positioned to fully succeed in their objectives for revitalization and enhancements to downtown commercial areas,” said Freeman, D-Northampton.

House Bill 450 would give the state Department of Community and Economic Development authority to grant a period of up to an additional five years for administrative costs associated with employing a Main Street manager if it determines that it would be beneficial to the community in reaching its revitalization goals.

“My proposal would give the department the authority to determine whether added time by a community in the program would make all the difference in ensuring that the plan is fully implemented, and the revitalization objectives are met,” Freeman said.

The Main Street Act was created to provide grants for commercial downtown revitalization efforts, including infrastructure improvements, marketing and promoting the established commercial downtown within the Main Street area, and façade grants, all under the direction of a Main Street manager. Currently, grants for a maximum of five years may be made to support and implement the efforts of a Main Street manager.

Freeman said Easton’s successful Main Street Program, which became nationally accredited in 2007, has been recognized with various awards from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, the city of Easton, Lafayette College, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., Pennsylvania Pursuits magazine, and Two Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce and was declared the No. 1 performing Main Street Program in Pennsylvania four times.

House Bill 450 now heads to the state Senate for consideration.