The Allegheny Conference on Community Development has announced the new Strengthening Communities Partnership, an endeavor aimed at spurring private investment in five communities that are already working to revitalize.
“What it enables is for a corporation to provide a significant donation, up to $500,000 annually, and in return for a six-year commitment at that level, they can receive an 80 percent state tax credit and an additional federal benefit,” said Taris Vrcek, executive director of McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation (CDC).
With the tax credits, for every dollar a corporation invests — their actual out-of-pocket cost would be about 13 cents. This allows the communities to fund revitalization efforts already underway, Vrcek said. Twenty communities submitted proposals to participate. Five communities have been chosen:
- McKees Rocks CDC
- Economic Development South (The Brownville Road corridor including Brentwood, Carrick, Mt. Oliver, Overbrook)
- Fayette County Cultural Trust
- City of Washington Citywide Development Corporation
- Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation
According to Bill Schenck, vice chairman of Tristate Capital Bank, there are distressed communities in the region whose residents have already come together and started the process of economic revitalization. He said these communities may have strong plans but just need some outside help.
“The conference intends to work with these communities to provide resources, both financial resources and pro-bono services and outside expertise, and it makes a difference to align these resources around a communities plan because revitalization can happen faster that way,” Schenck said.
The Allegheny Conference said while the region has made great strides in recent years, some communities have been left behind. This partnership aims to make revitalization happen faster. CEO Dennis Yablonsky said when funding other sources in a piecemeal fashion, it can make it difficult to gain momentum. This helps spur growth already happening.
“There are multiple business that already participate,” Yablonsky said. “What’s different about this is we’re going to try and get the existing businesses to concentrate their money in the communities and bring new businesses from the Allegheny Conference membership, that don’t currently participate, into the fold. That’s what different about this. So it’s concentration and focus and bigger mass.”
This is a pilot program, and more communities could be added in the next six years. For now, the five chosen communities will receive a modest seed grant from the Allegheny Conference. The amount is still to be determined.