Harkins, Merski: Nearly $3 million in tax credits awarded to boost investments in affordable housing, community revitalization, job training

(Nov 09, 2021)

ERIE, Nov. 9 – Tax credits totaling more than $2.8 million under the state Neighborhood Assistance Program will leverage investments in projects to improve life for Erie residents, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding will leverage investments in a broad range of projects. “The best investments are the ones that generate greater opportunities for people," Merski said. “By fueling projects to renew distressed areas, educate youth, address hunger insecurity and boost job training, these tax credits promise to expand the resources residents need to thrive.” Harkins said, “This tax credit funding will provide an infusion of lifeblood into our communities, which are still working to recover from the pandemic. From removing blight and revitalizing neighborhoods to improving literacy and increasing affordable housing, they are going to create new opportunities for residents and small businesses to build back and flourish.” The lawmakers say the tax credits include: Erie Playhouse – $26,125. ServErie – $5,500. SSJ Neighborhood Network – $27,500 and $200,000. YMCA of Greater Erie – $12,375. Erie County Historical Society – $5,500. Erie Center for Arts and Technology – $55,000 and $132,500. Gannon Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $200,000 low-interest loan to help fund unique Bayfront dining venue

(Nov 03, 2021)

ERIE, Nov. 3 – A low-interest loan of $200,000 will help fund a project to bring a unique outdoor dining and entertainment venue to the Erie Bayfront, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding to Scott’s Bayfront Hotel LLC will finance construction and renovations for Oliver’s Beer Garden that will help visitors capture stunning waterfront views. “The loan to Scott’s Bayfront Hotel LLC is especially exciting because it is helping to fund a project that builds on the Bayfront’s natural beauty in a way that draws visitors, increases commercial activity and attracts additional investment in our region,” Harkins said. “Scott’s Bayfront will also retain 55 permanent full-time jobs as a result of the project.” Merski said, “Today’s funding to Scott’s Bayfront will help move this special dining and entertainment project one step further by funding renovations that include site development, paving, landscaping, outdoor pavilion, fire pits, tiling, plumbing and electrical work. I can’t wait to see this area take on new life as the renovations take shape.” The total project cost is $803,647. The loan was approved through the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission and is a seven-year, $200,000 loan at a 1.5% interest rate. The loan was approved Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $12,000 grant to bring fresh food, focus on agriculture to pre-k students

(Oct 26, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 26 – State grant funding of $11,876 will bring Erie pre-k students greater access to fresh foods and a chance to learn about the importance of agriculture, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Early Connections Inc. – awarded by the state Department of Agriculture under the Pennsylvania Farm Bill’s Farm to School Program – can help the center shape healthy habits and stimulate interest in farming. “With so much cleverly advertised junk food around, it’s critical to make kids understand that there are healthy alternatives out there and that they have the power to make smarter choices,” Harkins said. “By providing access to local foods from Edinboro Farmers Market, this funding is going to help expose kids to those more nutritious options.” Merski said, “In addition to expanding access to nutritious foods, the grant to Early Connections will fund agriculturally focused children’s books and class programs and a field trip to a local maple syrup producer. By stimulating kids’ curiosity and teaching them that it can be empowering to grow their own food, we’re helping ensure a fresh crop of young minds dedicated to keeping urban agriculture thriving here in the region.” The grant is part of a package of funding to 47 projects designed to improve access to healthy local foods Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $700,000 in tax credits awarded to expand affordable rental housing

(Oct 14, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 14 – Erie residents will soon have greater options for affordable rental housing, thanks to nearly $700,000 in federal tax credit funding awarded today, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to GMA Development Group, LLC, for Royal Homes development sites in Erie will fund construction of 26 units. “Lack of affordable housing is a persistent problem for Pennsylvania’s low-income households, and too many families already spend more than half of their income on rent, leaving little left over for groceries, prescriptions and other necessities,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding will help expand housing options that give families livable options. It won’t solve our housing shortage overnight, but it’s a good start.” Merski said, “A stable, permanent place to call home is such an important foundation in life, but not all families have easy access to safe, affordable housing. The tax credits awarded today should help boost the supply of affordable rental units for Erie families.” The Low Income Housing Tax Credits are administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and were approved by the agency’s board. The funding is part of a package of $43.6 million awarded statewide for the construction of 1,974 affordable multifamily rental units. More information on the awards is Read more

 

Merski hosting winter coat drive Oct. 8-15

(Oct 06, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 6 – State Rep. Bob Merski is encouraging Erie residents to donate to “Coats and More for Kids” – a winter weather coat drive he is hosting Oct. 8-15 at his district office. Merski, D-Erie, said he is partnering with United Way of Erie to make sure every family has the warm-weather gear they need before the mercury starts plummeting. “Any parent or caregiver knows how quickly kids grow out of clothes,” Merski said. “That may be a simple nuisance for some households, but for others, keeping kids outfitted from year to year can be a real problem. “With another harsh Erie winter on the horizon, I’m encouraging residents to donate jackets, coats, scarves, caps, mittens, boots – even snow pants – to ensure every family has what they need to keep kids warm and protected.” Merski said residents should bring new or gently used items to his 3901 Liberty St. office between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Friday, Oct. 8 through Friday, Oct. 15. Anyone with questions should call the office at (814) 455-6319. Read more

 

Merski hosting ‘Hispanic Heritage’ online town hall at 6 p.m. Oct. 7

(Oct 05, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 5 – To highlight National Hispanic Heritage Month, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is hosting a virtual town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7 to highlight contributions by Erie residents of Hispanic heritage and discuss issues of importance to them. “Erie residents of Hispanic heritage have made our community infinitely richer through their diverse multicultural influences and contributions,” Merski said. “Our live online event Oct. 7 will give us a chance to hear from and celebrate some of those residents while also providing a forum to discuss issues of importance, including how Erie can be a more inclusive community. “I encourage everyone in the community to participate or tune in.” Those interested in attending the live online Teams event should send their name and e-mail address to Merski’s office by emailing RepMerski@pahouse.net or calling (814) 455-6319. The event will also be livestreamed on Merski’s Facebook page. For more information, those interested can contact Merski’s office at (814) 455-6319. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $585,000 awarded to support pregnant, postpartum women in recovery

(Oct 05, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 5 – Pregnant and postpartum women recovering from substance use disorder will have greater support as they transition from treatment to the Erie community, thanks to $583,153 in funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Allegheny Health Network will help the organization provide pregnancy support services and make referrals for outpatient treatment. “Getting through recovery can be difficult enough, but for pregnant or postpartum women, the added health and financial challenges can be overwhelming,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding will provide these Erie residents the added support and outpatient treatment they need to make a healthy return to productive lives.” Merski said, “After inpatient recovery treatment ends, expectant or postpartum moms need ongoing support to make a successful transition to the community. The funding announced today will help ensure services are in place to help them navigate the health-related, logistical and financial issues that may arise as they embrace the responsibilities of parenthood.” The funding – administered by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs – is part of a package of more than $12 million in grants announced today to help Pennsylvanians in recovery. That funding is part of a larger package of $55 million in federal money awarded to Pennsylvania Read more

 

Merski: Nearly $200,000 awarded to help close digital divide in Fort LeBoeuf School District

(Oct 01, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 1 – Grant funding of $198,000 will help level the connectivity playing field for students in the Fort LeBoeuf School District by ensuring they have access to the internet and tech resources they need to learn. Merski, D-Erie, said the funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund includes $144,000 to secure internet services and $54,000 for tech equipment. “Kids benefit greatly from online learning support outside the classroom, and access to internet and tech tools are key components of that support,” Merski said. “Unfortunately, providing that access can be difficult for some households. This funding is going to help close the digital divide by ensuring that all students stay connected.” Merski said the grant is part of a package of $20 million in funding to school districts statewide under the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a temporary fund created through the American Rescue Plan and administered by the Federal Communications Commission. The fund helps schools and libraries cover costs associated with digital devices such as laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, educators and library patrons who currently lack sufficient access to broadband and connected devices. More about the awards is available here . The grant is part of the first wave of ECF Read more

 

Merski partnering with LECOM to host Oct. 6 drive-through flu shot clinic

(Sep 30, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 30 – With flu season fast approaching, state Rep. Bob Merski is partnering with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine to host a drive-through flu shot clinic from 9 to 11 a.m. Oct. 6 at his 3901 Liberty St. office. Merski said the clinic will provide a quick and easy way for residents to strengthen their immunity before flu activity intensifies. “Although it’s hard to predict the exact timing and intensity of flu season on any given year, we know influenza activity usually starts increasing in October and grows more widespread as the season wears on, peaking between December and February,” Merski said. “I’m encouraging Erie residents to get an early jump on protection now, by visiting my October 6 clinic.” Merski said participants must bring their insurance cards to get a shot. Pre-registration is not required, but participants will be asked to complete a form on-site. Residents wishing to complete the form in advance can pick up a copy at Merski’s 3901 Liberty St. office. Residents with questions should call the office at (814)-455-6319. Read more

 

Rep. Bob Merski's Summer 2021 Newsletter

(Sep 19, 2021)

You can now read my Summer 2021 Newsletter online. Follow the link below to read about school funding, grants bringing your tax dollars home, and other news you can use – plus photos from around the district! Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: LECOM K-9 unit benefits entire community

(Sep 10, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 10 – With classes back in session at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, LECOM students and staff are benefiting from a new K-9 unit supported in part by a $50,000 state grant, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the grant will enhance security for the campus and the entire region. “Like other campuses that host year-round speaking events and community activities, LECOM will benefit greatly from the added security of a K-9 unit,” Merski said. “Police dogs do an incredible job of rooting out suspicious packages containing weapons or explosives, which is important as larger gatherings resume on campus and in the community. “The campus and the entire surrounding community are going to be safer thanks to the new addition to the force.” Harkins said: “The K-9 unit is a great addition to LECOM’s security because it adds an important layer of protection for students and staff and enhances peace of mind for everyone – including the officers responsible for campus safety. It’s great to know that the campus is joining so many others across the country that have added police dogs to their security arsenal.” The lawmakers said LECOM is assisting with startup costs for the program, which total about $80,000. Read more

 

Merski bill would help municipalities fight blight

(Sep 09, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 9 – A bill recently introduced by state Rep. Bob Merski would make it easier for municipalities to battle blight by creating a grant program to fund code enforcement efforts. Merski, D-Erie, said that under H.B. 1827 , municipalities would be able to apply for grants to help them launch new property maintenance code enforcement programs, hire inspectors for those programs or add more staff to fortify existing programs. “We need to make it easier for municipalities to break the vicious cycle that occurs when vacant, blighted properties reduce tax revenues available for public services like code enforcement, leading to further vacancies, declining property values and more people leaving the area,” Merski said. “Even before the pandemic, municipalities were struggling to keep code enforcement programs funded. COVID-19 only aggravated those problems by stretching budgets to the max. “The grant program created by my bill would give critical code enforcement efforts a shot in the arm by providing local governments the resources needed to respond to complaints, proactively root out trouble spots and carry out enforcement efforts.” Merski said the competitive grant program would be administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, and municipalities would be required to provide matching funds. The bill has been referred to the House Urban Affairs Committee. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $300,000 awarded to continue Erie opioid education, prevention programs

(Sep 08, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 8 – Grant funding of $299,733 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will continue an Erie pilot program to educate students about opioid dangers and help families keep kids safe, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Family Services of NW PA will support the Erie Opioid Misuse Prevention Project – one of five pilot programs statewide that are providing evidence-based strategies to reduce risk factors that lead kids to substance abuse and other problems. “The statewide Opioid Disaster Declaration recently expired after the Republican-controlled legislature failed to extend it,” Harkins said. “At the same time, the numbers are showing that opioid overdoses spiked during the pandemic. It’s a bad combination and highlights why it is so critical to keep youth education and prevention programs going.” Merski said, “The pilot programs are evidence-based and have been working to make sure kids understand the risks of opioid use and help families develop strategies to keep kids safe and steer them away from drug use and other risky behaviors. Thanks to this funding, those programs are going to continue for another year.” The lawmakers said Erie’s program, like the other pilots, is part of the Opioid Misuse Prevention Project and operates through partnerships among counties, school Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $350,000 in grant funding will bring fresh produce to Erie elementary schools

(Aug 04, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 4 – Erie elementary school students will see more fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu, thanks to $354,705 in grant funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said funding under the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program includes $311,870 to elementary schools in the Erie City School District and $42,835 to the Iroquois School District. “Decades of studies show a direct link between nutrition and kids’ ability to focus and learn, and it’s something I have seen firsthand during my years in the classroom,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help ensure Erie’s grade-schoolers have access to those dietary benefits, regardless of household income." Harkins said, “I’m thrilled we were able to secure this funding. In addition to staving off hunger and providing the kinds of healthy menu options kids need to do well in class, fresh fruits and vegetables are key to boosting the immune system and fighting disease. That’s more important than ever this year.” The lawmakers said the grants are part of a package of more than $7 million awarded to 288 elementary schools statewide under the FFVP. Funding priority was given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $500,000 awarded to fight blight, boost urban renewal in Erie

(Aug 02, 2021)

Erie, Aug. 2 – State grant funding of $482,251 will boost projects to clear blight and revitalize Erie’s urban landscape, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said three grants awarded by the state Department of Community and Economic Development under the Keystone Communities Program are: $229,251 to the City of Erie for the West Eighth Street Anchor Buildings Project. $150,000 to the Erie Redevelopment Authority for the City of Erie Blight Reduction Project. $103,000 to the PA Route 6 Alliance for the PA Route 6 Façade Program in the Great Lakes. “The grant to the city for the West Eighth Street Anchor Buildings Project is extremely exciting because it will build on investments and projects already underway to renew and regrow Erie’s commercial corridor,” Merski said. “With the additional funding, the city can continue efforts to anchor revitalization of this key section of the city with new residential and commercial spaces that draw families, businesses and jobs.” Harkins said the funding to the redevelopment authority will allow it to continue battling blight. “The redevelopment authority has been working hard to acquire abandoned and distressed properties and demolish or renovate them,” Harkins said. “While those efforts are Read more

 

Erie Delegation to tour LECOM Tuesday

(Aug 02, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 2 – State Representatives Pat Harkins, Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro are welcoming members of the House Democratic Policy Committee for a tour of Lake Erie College of Medicine, the nation’s most applied-to medical school. The tour will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday, August 3 at 1858 W. Grandview, Blvd., Erie. The media is encouraged to attend and can submit inquiries to policy@pahouse.net . A roundtable discussion will follow the facility tour, aimed at learning more about LECOM’s impact on education, medical care and Erie’s economy. Information about this and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings can be found at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more

 

Erie Reps. Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro to host conversation on economic impact of local breweries, distilleries, wineries

(Aug 02, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 2 – State Representatives Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro are hosting a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing where local breweries, distilleries and wineries will share how they are providing jobs, getting creative in their respective crafts and adapting to regulatory changes. The hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, August 4 at the Bayfront Convention Center, 1 Sassafras Pier, Erie, PA 16507. The media and public are encouraged to attend and can submit inquiries to policy@pahouse.net . Legislators from across the state will join Merski and Bizzarro for a discussion on how businesses have partnered with other local industries, adapted during the pandemic and what the state can do to support growth and recovery efforts for the industry. Information about this and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings can be found at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more

 

Merski: Erie Water awarded $6.5 million to replace 1,300 service connections

(Jul 23, 2021)

Connections include lead components between water main, property lines Read more

 

Merski hosting grant seminar for small businesses, nonprofits

(Jul 22, 2021)

ERIE, July 22 – Area businesses and nonprofits can get expert tips on tapping into state funding opportunities by attending “A Guide to Pennsylvania Grants” – an Aug. 5 seminar co-hosted by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The event will be held at 10 a.m. in the Admiral Room of the Blasco Library, at 160 E. Front St. “With so many small businesses and nonprofits still hurting from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to know what funding opportunities are out there and how to tap into them,” Merski said. “Our seminar will feature expert tips and a question-and-answer session to help business owners and organizations maximize their chances for success.” Merski said participants will receive a copy of the updated grant guide and state literature with contact information. Attendance is limited, so those interested should RSVP in advance by calling 814-455-6319. Anyone who cannot attend but would like a copy of the updated grant guide can pick one up at Merski’s 3901 Liberty St. office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce nearly $103,000 in fire, EMS grants

(Jun 30, 2021)

ERIE, June 30 -- State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced that fire and rescue crews in their districts will be receiving $102,670 in state grant funding for equipment, training and other needed resources. “Our fire and EMS companies really took a hit during the pandemic,” Harkins said. “In addition to dealing with new risks and logistical issues, departments lost critical fundraising income because of shutdowns and restrictions. This grant funding should ease the burden a bit for those who work so hard at the front lines.” Merski said: “Departments have been dealing with recruitment, retention and funding issues for years, but the past year added a whole new layer of challenges. This funding won’t solve the longstanding issues, but it will at least allow departments to upgrade aging equipment, perform building repairs and ensure crews have the ongoing training and other resources they need to stay safe on the job.” The lawmakers said the funding includes : Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – fire company, $12,767. City of Erie Fire Department – fire company, $15,000. EmergyCare Inc. – EMS, $8,993. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – fire company, $11,698. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – EMS, $8,993. Perry Hi-Way Hose Co. – fire company, $15,000. Perry Hi-Way Hose Co. – EMS, $8,993. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $3 million in tax credits awarded to boost investments in affordable housing, community revitalization, job training
Nov 09, 2021

Harkins, Merski: $200,000 low-interest loan to help fund unique Bayfront dining venue
Nov 03, 2021

Harkins, Merski: $12,000 grant to bring fresh food, focus on agriculture to pre-k students
Oct 26, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $700,000 in tax credits awarded to expand affordable rental housing
Oct 14, 2021

Merski hosting winter coat drive Oct. 8-15
Oct 06, 2021

Merski hosting ‘Hispanic Heritage’ online town hall at 6 p.m. Oct. 7
Oct 05, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $585,000 awarded to support pregnant, postpartum women in recovery
Oct 05, 2021

Merski: Nearly $200,000 awarded to help close digital divide in Fort LeBoeuf School District
Oct 01, 2021

Merski partnering with LECOM to host Oct. 6 drive-through flu shot clinic
Sep 30, 2021

Rep. Bob Merski's Summer 2021 Newsletter
Sep 19, 2021

Merski, Harkins: LECOM K-9 unit benefits entire community
Sep 10, 2021

Merski bill would help municipalities fight blight
Sep 09, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $300,000 awarded to continue Erie opioid education, prevention programs
Sep 08, 2021

Merski, Harkins: More than $350,000 in grant funding will bring fresh produce to Erie elementary schools
Aug 04, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $500,000 awarded to fight blight, boost urban renewal in Erie
Aug 02, 2021

Erie Delegation to tour LECOM Tuesday
Aug 02, 2021

Erie Reps. Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro to host conversation on economic impact of local breweries, distilleries, wineries
Aug 02, 2021

Merski: Erie Water awarded $6.5 million to replace 1,300 service connections
Jul 23, 2021

Merski hosting grant seminar for small businesses, nonprofits
Jul 22, 2021

Harkins, Merski announce nearly $103,000 in fire, EMS grants
Jun 30, 2021