On December 3, Main Street Gettysburg, (MSG) received a letter from Richard Vilello, Deputy Secretary of the Office for Community Affairs and Development that stated “On behalf of Governor Wolf, I am pleased to inform Main Street Gettysburg, Inc., that your application for designation as a Keystone Main Street has been approved……….This designation provides the added benefit of priority consideration under several Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) programs including the Keystone Communities Program. The designation also qualifies (your designated area) as a “distressed area” under the Neighbor Assistance Program (NAP).”
So what does this mean? MSG was able to illustrate to the state agency, DCED, that MSG’s designated area in the Borough and the work that MSG is doing meets exceptional expectations and criteria to be state designated. There are currently only 30 designated Main Streets in the state, out of approximately 100 Main Street organizations. As a designated Keystone Main Street Program, MSG will get higher priority status for various funding applications it submits to DCED. This includes planning funds, soft cost implementation grants, façade renovation grants, and public space improvement grants. All of these grant types will be required for MSG’s Ten -Year Economic Plan, and in particular, the Baltimore Street Economic Revitalization Plan. Main Street Gettysburg will also be eligible for free technical assistance from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center over the next 5 years.
The eligibility for the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) is another opportunity for MSG to seek and attract more investment into downtown Gettysburg. The NAP program is administered by DCED and is intended to foster collaboration among business firms, neighborhood organizations, local government entities and residents to encourage high-impact, long-term investment through tax credits. The tax credit value is business firms that contribute to neighborhood organizations to improve distressed communities receive a 75% tax credit. There is no minimum dollar commitment or donation. Now that the Main Street designated area has been approved, we are hoping to qualify the Baltimore Street project for this program.
DCED offers communities the opportunity to designate areas of a municipality or region for targeted investment and development for a period of five years. Designation includes the identification of specific needs for investment and/or development and the design and/or implementation of a strategy to address those needs. To receive the designation, MSG completed an application process that was very demanding. For example, MSG had to demonstrate that the Gettysburg area is in need of revitalization, how the community assets contribute to the region, create a formal 5-year strategy that emphasizes opportunities for business growth, downtown revitalization and effective ways the local government intends to assist in improving the downtown. MSG had to demonstrate financial sustainability of the organization and conduct an “Image Development Report” based on results of a survey that MSG was instructed to conduct. The process of the application was labor-intensive, however, MSG met the challenge.
Going forward, there are several conditions for MSG to continue to qualify for the designation. For example, mandatory managers meetings, training, detailed quarterly reporting and annual DCED assessments.
MSG is very proud of this designation because it automatically demonstrates “best practices” achievement in the economic development world. MSG is confident that it will help us reach that $11 million goal for Baltimore Street more expediently.