Freeman bill would permit extensions to Main Street program participants

HARRISBURG, March 15 -- State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced legislation that would enable communities to extend their participation – for up to a total of 10 years – in the state’s Main Street program.

“In order to be successful and thrive, the Main Street program communities often times need a longer time period to fully implement and realize their revitalization plans,” Freeman said. “Too often a community’s Main Street initiative 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 will be better positioned to fully succeed in their objectives for revitalization and enhancements to downtown commercial areas.”

According to Freeman, H.B. 926 would give the state Department of Community and Economic Development the 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 legislation 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.