Freeman bill would permit extended participation in Main Street program

HARRISBURG, April 16 – Communities would be allowed to extend their participation in the state’s Main Street program an additional five years, for up to 10 years, under legislation introduced by state Rep. Robert Freeman.

“The time period of only five years is often too short for Main Street programs to thrive and succeed in their objectives. My bill would provide Main Street communities with more time and, in turn, be able to fully implement a revitalization and enhancement strategy for downtown commercial areas,” said Freeman, D-Northampton.

Freeman said the state Department of Community and Economic Development could grant a period of up to an additional five 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.

“Too often a community’s Main Street initiative just gets started with implementing its revitalization plan when the funding ends, undermining the ability to realize the plan’s objectives. My legislation 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,” he 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.

The bill (H.B. 1243) was referred to the House Local Government Committee, of which Freeman is the Democratic chairman.