ERIE, Sept. 13 – Erie businesses will have access to fresh infusions of capital thanks to nearly $20 million in funding to Ben Franklin Technology Partners Central & Northern Pennsylvania, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development will allow Ben Franklin to make equity investments and loans to fuel area businesses and jobs. “There is so much talent and vision in the Erie business community, and those natural assets combined with an energetic, talented workforce have given birth to dozens of exciting enterprises,” Merski said. “The funding awarded today will mean more capital flowing to new and emerging businesses, which will continue growing Erie’s reputation as a welcome business climate and a place to invest.” Harkins said, “The investment in Ben Franklin Technology Partners means existing and emerging companies in our community can look forward to fresh infusions of funding. It’s a perfect investment in our area’s natural potential that will allow local business owners to spread their wings, create more jobs and keep our economy expanding.” The funding was awarded under the Direct Venture Investment program, which provides funding to economic development organizations to provide seed and later-stage capital for existing and emerging Read more
State Rep. Pat Harkins' Summer 2022 Newsletter Read more
ERIE, Sept. 6 – Erie parks, greenspaces and other natural attractions will receive a boost from more than $500,000 in state funding, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding was approved by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and will be used to rehabilitate and expand parkland and improve area attractions. “The investments we make in our natural attractions can be as important as the ones we make in concrete,” Merski said. “Expanding our parks and greenspaces makes our communities more livable – it brings more places for families to play and exercise together, for kids to learn and discover nature, and for visitors to enjoy our unique attractions. That’s a win for residents and for tourism, as well.” Harkins said, “Erie has an abundance of natural beauty and one-of-a-kind attractions. The funding we helped secure today is going to help restore or expand attractions folks visit to gather together and enjoy free time. I’m delighted we were able to help secure funding for the special places that improve quality of life for residents.” The projects approved include: $92,500 to Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for acquisition of 108.5 acres for addition to State Game Lands (for Erie/Warren counties). $91,240 to Union City Borough for rehabilitation of Read more
ERIE, Sept. 2 – Several Erie facilities will benefit from enhanced security thanks to $245,000 in federal grant funding, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding – awarded through the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program – includes $150,000 to Chabad Lubavitch of Erie County, Inc. and two separate grants totaling $95,000 to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. “I’m glad this funding is available to shore up protections against those who would seek to spread hatred and violence,” Merski said. “I also encourage everyone in our community to stand together and send a strong message that hate will find no safe harbor here in Erie.” Harkins said, “People should never have to feel threatened where they live, work, or pray. It’s my hope that this funding and the stronger security it provides will bring the peace of mind everyone deserves in our community.” The grants are part of a package of $4.2 million awarded statewide to protect diverse communities targeted by hate crimes. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provides funding for target hardening and physical security enhancements, with a focus on organizations that are at high risk of a potential terrorist attack. More information about the funding is Read more
ERIE, Aug. 31 – More fresh fruits and vegetables are headed to Erie elementary schools, thanks to $372,400 in grant funding from 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 $331,450 to elementary schools in the Erie City School District and $40,950 to the Iroquois School District. “Snacks like raw fruits and vegetables are quite literally brain food for kids – proven to help them focus better, retain more information, and perform better on tests,” Merski said. “They also help boost young immune systems to keep illness at bay. I am thrilled that we were able to help secure this funding so our students can reap the benefits of more nutritious snacks.” Harkins said, “ Getting more fresh produce into our local schools can do so much for students – in addition to increased school performance, getting kids snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of junk food helps them form healthy habits from a young age – hopefully, lessons that will last a lifetime. Funding priority was given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals. More information about the grants is available here , and a full list of the schools receiving funding Read more
At a recent rally at the state Capitol, certified nursing assistant Shelley Robinson recalled what happened when the nursing home she worked for ran out of food. “Workers were using their own food stamps to run to the store and buy milk and cereal for our residents. We took turns buying snacks for our diabetic patients so their sugar would stay stable. Our paychecks bounced. We are here to take care of our residents, but who is taking care of us?” Robinson’s story isn’t unique, and it isn’t new. Long before the pandemic, workers at Pennsylvania’s more than 700 nursing homes faced understaffed, overworked conditions – in some cases caring for more than 30 patients at a time. This year, we took a huge step toward changing that dynamic by passing a state budget that increases the Medicaid reimbursement rate and allocates hundreds of millions to long-term care facilities statewide. The funding – which has the potential to dramatically boost staff recruitment and retention – should open the door to progress and cooperation. Instead, as several thousand workers attempt to negotiate new union contracts, we are hearing reports that administrators are withholding key information, refusing to negotiate fairly and threatening to fire workers if they strike. That’s totally unacceptable. With lives at stake, home administrators need to start dealing fairly with workers – now. Sounding the alarm Caregivers Read more
ERIE, Aug. 11 – A $250,000 grant to the City of Erie Fire Department will help fund apparatus for the city’s public safety operations, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the grant will help the department meet critical needs. “Erie’s firefighters are some of the most dedicated out there, but they can’t do the job without a full complement of working equipment,” Merski said. “Apparatus requires constant maintenance, and outdated equipment is costly to replace. This funding is going to help replenish resources the department badly needs.” Harkins said, “Our community’s firefighters risk their lives for us when they go out into the front lines. Securing this funding is going to help ensure they have equipment they can count on as they work to protect the rest of us.” The funding is being administered through the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Read more
ERIE, Aug. 1 – Erie County students will benefit from new early education resources thanks to more than $3 million in funding, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding will open up new PA Pre-K Counts slots and help grantees in the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program defray increased operating costs. “The resources we invest in early childhood education bring some of the greatest, longest-lasting returns because they fund programs that shape developing minds,” Merski said. “As a teacher for more than two decades, I have seen firsthand the difference that having the right start in life can make for a child. I’m delighted that this funding is coming to the county to open up new PA Pre-K Counts slots and bolster Head Start programs.” Harkins said, “Study after study shows that kids who have access to programs like Pre-K Counts and Head Start thrive more fully, learn essential skills earlier and have a better overall chance of succeeding in the world. Today’s funding to enrich those programs is terrific news for students, parents, educators and our entire community.” The following grants were awarded to benefit students in the First and Second Legislative Districts: Pre-K Counts grants Child Development Centers, Inc. $400,000. Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Center, Inc. $80,000. Read more
ERIE, July 13 – Erie County motorists and pedestrians will benefit from smoother traffic flow and greater safety thanks to nearly $1.5 million in grant funding to upgrade traffic signals in the city and in Summit and Millcreek townships, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding includes nearly $983,000 for signal improvements in the city, nearly $245,000 for upgrades in Summit township, and another $268,000 for work in Millcreek. “Erie is receiving nearly $1 million to modernize three major traffic signals located along French Street where it intersects with 9th, 10th, and 11th streets,” Harkins said. “The project will include full reconstruction of the signals and ADA ramps. It’s an investment that has been needed for some time to maximize traffic flow and keep motorists, bikers and pedestrians safe.” Merski said nearly $245,000 will fund improvements to multiple intersection signals in Summit. “The new funding to Summit will allow the township to upgrade traffic detection and controller assembly units at nine different intersections along the Peach Street corridor. The work will keep traffic flowing smoother and allow workers to determine when it isn’t flowing efficiently and adjustments are needed. Motorists will benefit from fewer delays and reduced fuel consumption, and everyone will benefit from greater safety.” The lawmakers said that in addition Read more
ERIE, July 8 – Casting a ‘yes’ vote on the 2022-23 state budget, state Rep. Pat Harkins said the new state spending plan invests responsibly and provides a historic boost for the state’s public schools while holding the line on taxes. Harkins, D-Erie, said that investment stands to be a game-changer for students and taxpayers. “Public education is supposed to be the great equalizer, but for decades, students in Erie and other less-affluent districts have started from an uneven playing field because the state has failed to fairly fund our schools, leaving taxpayers to fill the bill,” Harkins said. “This year, for the first time, we passed a budget that makes real inroads toward leveling the playing field, increasing basic education funding by more than $500 million and special education funding by $100 million. “In addition, the budget allocates $225 million in Level Up funding statewide, including more than $6.6 million to Erie City School District. Those dollars have the potential to change the landscape for historically underfunded districts like Erie by finally delivering the dollars our students deserve.” Harkins said both the Erie City and Iroquois school districts will see double-digit percentage increases over last year’s funding, with Erie receiving increases of nearly $16 million for basic education and nearly $1.4 million for Read more
HARRISBURG, July 8 – New legislation signed by the governor Thursday reauthorizes social clubs throughout Erie and the commonwealth to use all of the revenue they receive from small games of chance, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today. Harkins, who is Democratic chairman of House Gaming Oversight Committee, said Act 49 of 2022 essentially continues a policy implemented during the pandemic that allowed clubs to use 100% of that revenue for costs rather than having to allocate 60% to public interest programs. “Under the standard rule in effect before the pandemic, clubs were permitted to retain 40% of their small games of chance revenue for costs but were required to use 60% of that revenue for public interest programs and projects,” Harkins said. “A provision implemented during the pandemic eased that rule and permitted clubs to tap 100% of their small games of chance revenue to help them shoulder operating costs at a time when pandemic restrictions and shutdowns dried up fundraising and other key revenue. “The law easing restrictions during the pandemic recently expired, but civic, fraternal and veterans’ clubs in Erie and throughout Pennsylvania are still very much feeling the impact of pandemic-related restrictions. The new law reauthorizing that policy is great news because it ensures that these terrific groups that do so much for our community will have the help they need to continue operating.” Read more
ERIE, June 10 – Erie County organizations are receiving $970,000 in funding to expand housing-related services for families in need, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund will address a range of different needs that open doors for residents. “This funding will strengthen programs across the board for residents facing housing challenges,” Merski said. “Some of those dollars will support our most vulnerable residents, including folks in crisis, by strengthening resources for area shelters, while other funding will support home repair programs and programs to help families working toward first-time homeownership. All of the funding comes at an important time, when folks are still building back from the impacts of the pandemic.” Harkins said, “The stability that comes with having a home gives parents and caregivers the peace of mind to know their kids are safe, gives families the support of a caring community and provides people with the freedom and confidence to find work. Securing this funding today is going to help get those keys to self-sufficiency into the hands of more Erie residents in need.” The funding includes: $200,000 to Greater Erie Community Action Committee for the Corridor of Opportunity program. Read more
ERIE, June 9 – Erie is receiving two grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission: $25,000 to fund a historical site survey and $12,500 for the first phase of a project to preserve the Erie Art Museum’s Old Customs House, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the survey will help bring more of Erie’s past to light. “While much of Erie’s rich history is memorialized in treasures like the Brig Niagara, Presque Isle Light and Dickson Tavern, other markers of our past have yet to be discovered and preserved,” Merski said. “The survey funded by this grant is going to help us identify all historic resources within the city – including sites and landmarks that may be eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation – so they can add chapters to our unique story.” Harkins said the Old Customs House renovation is an important preservation project. “The Old Customs House contains more than 400 of the Erie Art Museum’s pieces and hosts several exhibitions yearly, but the structure is nearly two centuries old, and in significant need of preservation. This funding will help get that important project underway.” The funding is part of a package of Keystone Historic Preservation Grants awarded statewide and funded through the Keystone Recreation, Read more
ERIE, June 8 – Erie County is receiving $1.02 million in funding to improve probation services, strengthen services for sexual assault victims, and respond to student mental health needs, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will ensure county services and supports have access to the staff, training and other resources needed for good outcomes. “Today’s funding is going to help us do more for victims of sexual assault by funding a Sexual Assault Response Team,” Merski said. “A swift team response means better professional support for those who have been traumatized by vicious crimes and heartier enforcement through training that improves investigation and prosecution of offenders. “Some of the funding will also help us better address student mental health needs by funding a mental health liaison to connect students needing support to counseling. Those services are critical for students who are in troubled or in crisis and may not know where to turn.” Harkins said, “In addition to strengthening resources for assault victims and student mental health needs, today’s funding will help improve county probation services and reduce recidivism. Some of those dollars will support key step-down, supervisory services that fill a gap between incarceration and probation. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 6 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, is reminding clubs in Erie and throughout Pennsylvania that beginning June 10, they must resume allocating 60% of their small games of chance revenue to public interest purposes. Harkins, who is Democratic chairman of House Gaming Committee, said the provisions of Act 118 of 2020 – which temporarily suspended the 60% rule and allowed organizations to keep 100% of their small games revenue for operating expenses – are set to expire. “I want to remind community clubs – including civic, fraternal and veterans’ organizations – that the temporary rule allowing them to use 100% of their small games of chance revenue for operating expenses is ending this Friday, June 10,” Harkins said. “The rule was essential for helping clubs meet operating expenses at time when pandemic-related closures and restrictions on gatherings severely limited revenue. “The legislation that established the new rule also created a time period for its application, permitting clubs to tap 100% of their small games proceeds during the governor’s disaster declaration and for up to one year following termination of the declaration. That period is ending this week, which means clubs will return to the standard rule, with 40% of the revenue used for costs and 60% for public interest programs and projects.” Organizations eligible for Small Games of Chance licenses in Read more
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
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
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
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
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
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