Latest News

Harkins, Merski: More than $530,000 in tax credits approved to boost young tech companies in Erie

(May 12, 2022)

ERIE, May 12 – Early-stage technology companies in Erie will benefit from $530,714 in tax credits approved today, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the Keystone Innovation Zone tax credits will be key to helping a growing Erie industry flourish. “Erie’s growing tech industry is diversifying our manufacturing and business sectors and bringing more family-sustaining jobs to the region,” Harkins said. “But for young companies, solvency and cash flow can pose huge challenges. The tax credits awarded today will make it easier for these companies to grow so they can stay in Erie, strengthen their bases in the community and expand.” Merski said, “It’s exciting to see more and more tech companies putting down roots here in Erie, but we need to make sure we can offer the favorable business climate and incentives they need to survive and thrive here. One way is by lowering the state corporate income tax, and another is by providing tax credits like the ones awarded today, which help reduce the burden on young companies starting out.” The lawmakers say the tax credits include: Evident Holding Company, LLC – $26,087 Institute on Healthcare Directives – $11,370 Makerplace Inc. – $100,000 VelocityNet Video, Inc. – $40,735 Steel Toe Consulting, Read more

Sainato: $150,000 awarded to Villa Maria farm center for hands-on learning

(May 11, 2022)

NEW CASTLE, May 11 – The Villa Maria Farm Center for Regenerative Agriculture is receiving a $151,106 grant from the state Department of Agriculture to help train new and beginning farmers about growing organic specialty crops, state Rep. Chris Sainato announced today. Sainato, D-Lawrence, said the funding will support in-person learning in demonstration gardens, as well as virtual learning, for an organization especially devoted to the community. “The Villa Maria Farm Center is a special place that embodies the self-reliance and community-minded spirit of the sisters who run it,” Sainato said. “A good portion of the farm’s produce is donated to food banks, shelters and parishes, and one of the center’s expressed goals is ensuring a fresh local food supply to those who need it. “Thanks to the new funding, the center will be able to provide hands-on learning and virtual lessons in organic agriculture to 10 new farmers each year. It’s a great investment that will bolster local agriculture while reinforcing the center’s messages of self-sufficiency, sustainability and community giving.” The farm, which operates on 759 acres, is part of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary’s Villa Maria Community Center. The grant is part of a package of $2.45 million in federal grants awarded statewide to 23 projects that will grow markets and increase the quality, safety Read more

Longietti receives ‘Legislative Excellence in Caring’ award from early education commission

(May 10, 2022)

HARRISBURG, May 10 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, was honored today by the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission for his legislative support and advocacy on behalf of improving early childhood education and child care in the commonwealth. Longietti – who co-chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Pennsylvania Legislative Early Childhood Education Caucus and is Democratic chairman of the state House Education Committee – said he was honored to be recognized by the commission because he is a strong supporter of the group’s work. “I will treasure this award because I am a such big fan of the work this commission does to ensure Pennsylvania’s kids receive the best possible start in life through quality child care and early learning programs,” Longietti said. “These are some of the best investments we can make in state government, and the commission’s voices are essential to making them happen.” In presenting the award on behalf of the commission, former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker called Longietti an “outstanding champion for children and families,” saying he was instrumental in securing funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts Program, bringing the Nurse-Family Partnership to Mercer County and working with United Way to launch the county’s chapter of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Praising Longietti as a “reliable and stout advocate with stakeholders across Read more

Harkins, Merski encouraged by turnout at town hall addressing cell issues

(May 06, 2022)

ERIE, May 6 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said they were heartened that yesterday’s live town hall to address cell service problems on Presque Isle, the lake, and the surrounding shore drew a strong crowd and participation by area cell service providers. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the event was an opportunity to bring those companies together with community members so providers could understand the urgency of the problem. “This is an issue that has been coming up year after year with service along the lakeshore,” Merski said. “Calls are constantly being dropped, and for folks who live close to water and below the bluff, sometimes there is no service at all. It’s posing a safety issue, especially as more and more people have cut the cord on their land lines. “We heard from a Harborcreek Township woman who tried to call 911 when her husband needed emergency medical help, and the call kept dropping. Thankfully, she was able to get help, but the incident showed us how critical it is to get stronger service and why we need to address this now. People’s lives can be quite literally on the line. “It’s also a cost issue. The Harborcreek resident ended up having to sign up for a land line. We shouldn’t force people to undergo extra expenses. Companies should be providing this cell service as part of their obligation under the Read more

Harkins, Merski: $2.25M loan funding 90,000-SF warehouse, distribution center

(May 04, 2022)

ERIE, May 4 – A low-interest loan of $2.25 million to the Enterprise Development Center of Erie County will fund construction of a 90,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center for lease to an expanding manufacturer, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said EDCEC will enter into a 15-year lease with Berry Plastics as the global manufacturer and marketer of plastic packaging products looks to expand its Erie presence. “The new funding is terrific news for our local workforce,” Harkins said. “When companies like Berry expand their footprint, it means new job opportunities for the district. With the plans for the new warehouse underway, Berry has already committed to creating 15 full-time jobs and retaining 145 current positions within three years. We are proud to have Berry here and even more excited to see this project get a boost with this new loan funding.” Merski said, “Berry has been a valued local employer for years now, and we are thrilled to see them expanding again. Our thanks to Tina Mengine and the Erie County Redevelopment Authority for their efforts to secure this funding, which helps ensure that this global leader continues growing its operations right here in Erie.” Harkins said the 15-year loan has a $1.5% reset interest rate. The total project cost for the facility – to be located at 1501 Read more

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $1.5 million awarded for Erie-area recycling projects

(Apr 27, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 27 – Erie-area recycling and leaf-collection programs will get a boost from $1.48 million in grant funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding is part of a package of Recycling Development and Implementation grants that will help communities launch or continue successful programs. “Erie business owners and residents understand the economic and ecological benefits of recycling, and our communities have embraced these efforts,” Harkins said. “The investments made today are going to ensure those programs keep running strong.” Merski said, “This funding is extremely practical -- communities can use it to expand recycling facilities, start or continue curbside programs, operate leaf compost facilities, and other programs that make a very real impact when it comes to saving money, saving energy, creating jobs and all the other benefits those programs bring.” The following communities will receive grant funding: Erie City – $350,000. Millcreek Township – $350,000. Erie County – $334,622. Edinboro Borough – $291,103. Fairview Township – $153,000. Through the grant program, municipalities and counties in Pennsylvania are eligible for up to 90% funding of approved Read more

Longietti honored by University of Pittsburgh Occupational Therapy Department

(Apr 26, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 26 – The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Occupational Therapy today presented State Rep. Mark Longietti with the school’s Award of Appreciation, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated meaningful engagement with the University’s OT students. Longietti – who was nominated based on his service as a guest lecturer for the university’s Master in OT Program – said he was deeply honored by the award. “Receiving this recognition from the University of Pittsburgh’s Occupational Therapy Department is a special honor because the folks presenting it are models of dedication to their field,” Longietti said. “The passion and devotion to the work these educators show every day inspires students to take that with them into the field, and it makes a world of difference to their patients. “I have felt humbled to play a role in helping teach these students about the legislative process and the importance of becoming engaged in policies affecting their profession.” In presenting the award, professor and Department Chair Elizabeth Skidmore noted that Longietti has been consistently engaged with students in creditable and valuable ways during the past five years, has regularly made time for in-person lectures on the complexity of government, and has taken information from hearings and meetings with those in the profession to the House chamber to Read more

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $350,000 awarded for projects to improve Erie fishing opportunities

(Apr 26, 2022)

ERIE, April 26 – Erie anglers will benefit from $348,600 in funding awarded by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the following two grants were awarded through the Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, which was expanded based on legislation co-authored by Harkins and Erie colleague state Rep. Parke Wentling: $248,700 to Western PA Port Authority for Parade Street Dock Access Rehabilitation. The dock’s public access wall has failed, creating sidewalk cracking requiring the dock’s closure. The funding will allow the Port Authority and S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie Fishing Club to reconstruct the handicapped accessible fishing area by building a new sheet-pile retaining wall and concrete walkway and installing safety ladders. The facility and adjacent parking lot will be ADA-accessible. $99,900 to Penn State/Pennsylvania Sea Grant for Manchester Falls fish passage study. The Pennsylvania Sea Grant will lead a feasibility and design study to provide a framework for increasing fish passage and improved fishing opportunities upstream of Manchester Falls of Walnut Creek. The study will also address prevention of invasive species migration upstream. “The Parade Street dock along Presque Isle Bay has offered years of enjoyment as a special place for all anglers, including Read more