Freeman: $100K to benefit two community initiatives

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D- Northampton, announced today that the Greater Easton Development Partnership will receive funding for two projects under the COVID-19 Relief – Supporting Elm and Main SEAM Program totaling $100,000.

“This funding investment comes at a critical time when our communities have faced additional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Freeman said.

“It's been a tough year for GEDP and for our community, and we certainly appreciate this support from the state to bolster our Main Street and West Ward initiatives as we look to help our small businesses and the community at large to bounce back in 2021 and beyond,” said Jared Mast, executive director of Greater Easton Development Partnership. “Improved conditions and opportunities in our urban core communities are crucial to the health of the commonwealth as a whole, and we commend PA DCED for targeting neighborhood-based organizations like ours and others through this program."

Freeman explained that nearly $2 million was allocated and awarded to 43 projects across the state. Eligible applicants for the program included designated Keystone Main Street, Keystone Elm Street, or Keystone Communities organizations, 2020 nationally accredited Main Street programs and community development organizations. Applicants were required to employ, and continue to employ for at least the next year, a paid professional manager or coordinator responsible for the administration of the revitalization strategy/program. 

According to Freeman, the amount awarded to the Greater Easton Development Partnership will be split evenly between two projects:

  • Easton Main Street Initiative Support.
  • West Ward Community Initiative Support.

SEAM provides financial assistance to community revitalization organizations dedicated to community and economic development in older and historic downtowns, commercial districts and neighborhoods according to the principles of the Elm Street and Main Street approaches. The program, supported by Keystone Communities funding, is intended to assist Elm Street and Main Street organizations that have been economically impacted by COVID-19.

Freeman, who is Democratic chairman of the PA House Local Government Committee, authored the Elm Street legislation that was signed into law in 2004 creating the program to complement the Main Street program.

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.  

Freeman has introduced legislation (H.B. 926) to allow Main Street communities to receive an additional five years of grant funding for administrative costs if the Department of Community and Economic Development believes the additional five years will enable a Main Street community to achieve its revitalization objectives. House Bill 926 was unanimously reported out of the House Local Government Committee in March and is awaiting a vote by the full House.