Freeman bill to extend participation in state’s Main Street Program advances

HARRISBURG, March 24 -- Legislation that would allow communities to extend their participation in the state’s Main Street Program to up to a total of 10 years was unanimously approved today by the PA House Local Government Committee and now moves to the full House for consideration, according to the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton.

“I’d like to thank my colleagues for today’s unanimous vote during a meeting of the House Local Government Committee,” Freeman said. “Communities in the Main Street Program oftentimes need to extend their time in the program to fully implement their plan and achieve their revitalization objectives. This legislation adds a needed option of a program extension.

“Too often, funding ends just as a community’s Main Street initiative begins to make headway with implementing revitalization plans,” he said. “The end result is an undermining of the ability for these communities to fully realize the plan’s objectives. Under my legislation, 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 five additional 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. 

“Once it becomes law, my bill 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.