Harkins, Merski: Penn State Behrend awarded $200,000 to develop tech training center for regional manufacturers

(Feb 10, 2021)

ERIE, Feb. 10 – A $200,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development will allow Penn State Behrend to develop a “4.0 Center of Excellence” for regional manufacturers, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the state’s Manufacturing Training-to-Career program will help ensure that area industry maintains a well-trained workforce. “With this funding, Penn State Behrend will be able to offer training in the latest tech-based tools that manufacturers need to compete in the modern digital world,” Harkins said. “By helping manufacturers ensure that worker skills keep pace with technological advancements – from robotics to digital systems to data analysis – the center will help regional industries reach more customers, speed production and improve efficiency. “I attended Penn State Behrend, and I am extremely excited to see the ways my alma mater will be helping our region remain competitive.” Merski said, “The new Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence is going to help bring manufacturing in our region further into 21 st century. Access to cutting-edge technology is one of the keys to competitiveness in the business world, but the technology is only effective if workers are trained to use it. By offering expanded workforce training on state-of-the-art systems, the new center is going to Read more

 

Merski demands answers, accountability at vaccine rollout hearing

(Feb 08, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – At a House Policy Committee Hearing today, state Rep. Bob Merski demanded answers from state officials regarding why the COVID-19 rollout is leaving so many eligible residents still waiting for a vaccine. Merski, D-Erie, called for greater consistency and a rollout that prioritizes the community’s most vulnerable. “Today at the Policy Committee hearing on the vaccine rollout, I questioned state health officials about confusing and inconsistent rollout measures,” Merski said. “Residents are growing increasingly frustrated as it seems the rules of the game – including who is eligible for the shot and who is getting it – are being changed midway through. “We need greater accountability and consistency, and we need answers when providers decide they are not going to follow the CDC guidelines, because with a limited supply of vaccine, it’s critical to make sure doses are getting into the arms of the most vulnerable residents. We are hearing that it may still take weeks before nursing and personal care homes residents are staff are fully vaccinated. “In addition to urging officials to make those vulnerable residents a priority, I also urged the state to put a priority on teachers who are already in the classroom teaching and have preexisting conditions. Having taught in the classroom for 19 years, I know there is Read more

 

Merski: New loan to local Erie business will stimulate new business for region

(Feb 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement today in response to news that real estate holding company AnDi LLC was approved for a business loan for a new commercial venture: “I’m extremely excited for AnDi LLC, which is going to use the loan for a new commercial project that will bring renewed business activity to the region,” Merski said. “The company plans to purchase about 12 acres located in Fairview Business Park to construct a 95,500-square-foot distribution facility, which it will lease to Allegheny Beverage Company under a 15-year lease agreement. About 10,000 square feet of the new facility will be used for office space, with remaining space to be used as a modern warehouse. “This is the kind of investment that is going to generate jobs and attract increased economic activity for our area, and I am truly excited about the new venture.” Merski said AnDI LLC, a real estate holding company through Enterprise Development Center of Erie County, Inc., was approved for a $2.25 million 15-year loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate and comes from through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. As a single-tenant building project, the loan will be subject to the retention of Allegheny Beverage Company's 70 full-time employees from their current Erie location and the creation of 10 full-time employees within Read more

 

Merski supports proposed budget investments in education, working families, public health

(Feb 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address today. “Restoring the strength of our local businesses and communities will dominate budget planning this year as we work to distribute additional federal COVID relief funding. Speeding funding to our community’s restaurants, bars, shops and other local businesses will be critical. As we await more federal funding, I support the governor’s proposal to immediately allocate $145 million in state funding now to help these businesses survive. “While federal funding will obviously play a major role in economic recovery this year, our plans for allocating state funding in other critical areas like education are going to shape our community’s rebound and recovery. I strongly support the governor’s proposal to make education funding more equitable through a significant investment in the fair funding formula. Public education can be one of life’s greatest equalizers – but only if every student has access to the same high-quality curricula regardless of household income. “I also support continued investments to make public college more affordable, so young adults don’t start off in life struggling under a huge student debt burden. I am encouraged to hear about proposed investments in Erie County Community College, Read more

 

State Grant Programs Now Open for Applications: Oct. 4 Update

(Feb 02, 2021)

A listing of state grant programs open for applications. Click here to learn more. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins assume new leadership roles in Northwest Delegation

(Jan 28, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 28 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are taking on new leadership roles in the state legislature’s Northwest Delegation, with Merski elected vice chairman and Harkins elected treasurer for the 2021-22 legislative session. As they embrace their new roles, the lawmakers, both D-Erie, said they are mindful of the challenges that lay ahead. “Restoring the economic health of our region will require the Northwest Delegation to play an active role in speaking out for Erie and the needs of our region, and I am looking forward to helping lead that effort as vice chairman of the delegation,” Merski said. “Being Erie’s voice in Harrisburg means understanding the specific challenges residents are facing here in our corner of the state, from a need for greater job opportunities and career training to reliable childcare and affordable health care. “Working families and small business owners in our region are looking to us for answers, and their needs will be front-and-center as we work to develop solutions that recharge our economy and restore quality of life.” Harkins said: “We know that it will not be an easy road ahead as Erie continues shaking off the economic impacts of the pandemic, and the delegation will need to be a stronger voice than ever as we work to get our region back on its feet. As the new delegation treasurer, I will be doing everything in my power help guide our small Read more

 

Merski, Harkins laud Erie blogger honored by historical society

(Jan 27, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 27 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are hailing local resident Erin Phillips, who was awarded a Community Initiative Award for 2020 from the State Historic Preservation Office for her “Old Erie on Foot” Instagram account and blog. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said Phillips’ work, which encourages others to discover and explore Erie’s historic places, is bringing attention to the area’s rich past and encouraging others to learn and participate. “Some communities are lucky enough to have natural storytellers who have a knack for sharing their love of history in a relatable, engaging way that excites others,” Merski said. “Erin Phillips is one of those natural storytellers. The stories and photos in her blog and Instagram account, “Old Erie on Foot,” have inspired thousands to learn more about the people, places and events that shaped us.” Harkins said: “We are so proud of Erin Phillips for her work in bringing attention to Erie’s rich history. Local history comes alive when it is shared by those who have roots in the community. By encouraging readers to explore historical buildings, homes and other sites, Ms. Phillips is laying a path through the fascinating events that happened here and inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.” According to the historic preservation office – a bureau of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Read more

 

Troubleshooting PUA claims: How to reopen/reactivate a PUA claim

(Jan 27, 2021)

How to reopen/reactivate a PUA claim : Log in to your dashboard Select “File for Weekly Benefits” Then select “File Your Weekly Certification to Continue Your Claim” You will see the message “You currently have a claim established however it is inactive.” Click on “here.” It will seem as if you are opening a new claim. The system knows you are only attempting to reopen the claim you already have established. Click Next. You will see the Welcome to Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Unemployment Portal Page. Click next. The next eight pages are pre-populated based on your initial claim information. You will click next after verifying the information is correct on each page. If it is not correct, you should make updates at this time. Note: This includes things such as your email, address, date of birth, education information and employment status. You will also be asked the COVID questions. PLEASE NOTE THAT FOR THE MAJOR DISASTER INFORMATION QUESTION YOU SHOULD SELECT COVID -19 NOT COVID 19 -2 If you reported that you are self-employed, the system will ask for you 2020 wages. This is an error. You should enter all 0s for those wages. You will also need to answer if you have worked since you last filed for weeks. If you have worked, you must click the “I have worked since my last Read more

 

Merski launching February food and care product drive

(Jan 26, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Bob Merski is kicking off a month-long nonperishable food and personal care product drive Feb. 1 to help families struggling during the pandemic. Merski, D-Erie, is hosting the event in partnership with the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network and the Glenwood Park YMCA and said he expects a strong community response based on the success of last year’s care products drive. “We have an incredibly caring community,” Merski said. “The personal care products drive we hosted last year was a huge success and went a long way toward helping families. This year, with the pandemic creating an even greater need, we are expanding the drive to include non-perishable food and pantry items. I know Erie residents will rise to the occasion.” Merski said those able to donate should bring new, sealed nonperishable food items and personal care products to his district office at 3901 Liberty St.; his Summit Township satellite office (open Tuesdays only) at 1230 Townhall Road W.; the Glenwood Park YMCA at 3727 Cherry St.; or Pressed book and coffee shop at 1535 W. 8 th St. Merski said the following nonperishable pantry items and personal care products are especially helpful: canned foods (soup, fruit, vegetables, stew, fish, and beans). pasta/rice/instant mashed potatoes. peanut butter/applesauce. boxed Read more

 

Merski, Harkins co-hosting COVID-19 Virtual Vaccine Town Hall Jan. 25

(Jan 21, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 21 – Erie residents can find answers to their questions about the COVID-19 vaccine by attending a virtual vaccine town hall at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said they are co-hosting the online event with their House and Senate Democratic colleagues and the state Department of Health to bring residents up to date on the latest vaccine information. “The state health department just announced that it is expanding the category of residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to include people 65 and older and those 16 to 64 with serious health conditions,” Merski said. “While that’s good news, most of us still have questions about the timetable and what it means for everyone in the Erie community. “I’m encouraging everyone with questions to register for the event, which will feature a health department official answering questions in an online, live forum.” Harkins said: “The COVID-19 vaccine is bringing cause for hope but also a host of questions -- from how safe and effective it is to when folks can expect to receive theirs. This is new territory for all of us, and we want to make sure the community has access to the latest, most accurate information. Joining the live event will give folks a chance to get that information straight from the best source – the state health department.” Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $41.4 million to Erie schools to support continued learning during pandemic

(Jan 15, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 15 – Area school districts will receive approximately $41.44 million in federal funding under the CARES Act to ensure students have the resources they need to continue learning during the pandemic, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to four school districts and three charter schools will help ensure educators have the resources and supports needed to continue a quality, safe curriculum. “Erie is fortunate to have incredibly dedicated school officials, teachers and support staff who are 100% dedicated to keeping quality instruction flowing at all levels K-12,” Merski said. “Throughout the pandemic, they have been working to keep the curricula engaging despite wrestling with tight budgets and strained resources. The funding announced today is going to put more resources into their hands to help them ensure students keep learning and thriving in a safe environment.” Harkins said: “The pandemic has tested the limits of our public education system. This much-needed infusion of funding is going help our talented educators continue inspiring kids and our districts ensure that all the planning and protections are in place to keep them safe. I am encouraging districts to apply as soon as they are able.” The lawmakers said districts will receive the following funding: Erie City School District Read more

 

Merski announces House committee appointments for 2021-22 legislative session

(Jan 12, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 12 – State Rep. Bob Merski announced today that he has been appointed to serve on the House Insurance Committee and reappointed to second terms on the Gaming Oversight, Game and Fisheries and Urban Affairs committees. Merski, D-Erie, said he is looking forward to the nuts and bolts of committee work and the opportunity to help shape legislation from the ground level up. “Much of our committee work this year will focus on maximizing revenue and recovery as we rebuild from the pandemic,” Merski said. “Gaming is a vital source of state revenue, and I will be working with colleagues on the House Gaming Oversight Committee to ensure Pennsylvania is positioned to benefit quickly from the reopening of casinos and other gaming venues once the pandemic threat has ended. “Efforts to rebuild will involve new challenges for communities everywhere, and our work on the Urban Affairs Committee will focus on hastening economic recovery for Erie and other cities while improving life for residents. Quality of life depends on affordable recreational outlets, and my work on the Game and Fisheries Committee will focus on expanding those opportunities while bolstering the revenue that supports our state game and fish commissions. “Finally, I am excited to begin my new role serving on the House Insurance Committee. Insurance is an important industry for Erie, and I look forward Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Erie senior centers to benefit from nearly $50,000 in grants

(Jan 07, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 7 – State funding of $49,383 will help Erie’s senior centers weather the financial impact of the pandemic so they can continue serving the needs of older adults and resume full-scale operations in the future, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers said the funding from the state Department of Aging will go to the area’s agency on aging – the Greater Erie Community Action Committee Agency – to be divided equally among the county’s senior community centers. “ Our area’s senior centers provide Erie’s older adults with incredibly important connections to the community,” Harkins said. “But like all other businesses and organizations, they are feeling the economic brunt of the pandemic keenly. This funding is going to give them the shot in the arm they need to continue operating so they can safely welcome seniors back to a full range of engaging activities once it is safe to do so.” Merski said: “Our local Erie senior centers offer older adults access to vital services such as nutritious meals and transportation, but they also provide so much more in terms of quality of life –fitness, learning, volunteering and all the other activities that keep seniors engaged. “The funding announced today will be a lifeline for our area centers, which will be able to use the money Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $30,000 awarded to Mercyhurst University as part of statewide campaign to combat campus sexual assault

(Jan 06, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 6 – A $29,250 grant to Mercyhurst University under the state’s “It’s On Us” program will help ensure students remain safe from the threat of sexual violence, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers said the grant will help the school implement strategies to raise awareness about sexual violence and prevention, the reporting process and the resources available for survivors. “Sexual violence has no place in our community, but the reality is that it can happen anywhere –including college campuses – with devastating effects,” Merski said. “College is a place for young adults to learn, thrive and mature, but that’s only possible if they feel safe. The grant funding awarded will help ensure Mercyhurst has the resources it needs to maintain the safest possible environment for all students.” Harkins said: “No student should live in fear, but banishing the threat of sexual violence requires resources and vigilance. This grant will fund programs to raise awareness about this repugnant crime, help prevent campus assaults, and ensure students are aware of protections, reporting procedures and other available resources.” The funding for Mercyhurst University is part of a package of grants to postsecondary schools statewide. The schools use the funding for programs ranging from campus-wide training for students, educators and staff to campaigns to raise Read more

 

Merski sworn in for second term representing 2nd Legislative District

(Jan 05, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – State Rep. Bob Merski was sworn in today at the state Capitol, taking the oath of office to begin his second term representing the residents of the 2 nd Legislative District. As he outlined plans for the 2021-22 legislative session, Merski, D-Erie, emphasized the importance of economic recovery and a legislative agenda that is guided by residents’ needs and concerns. “I am grateful to the people of Erie for the honor and privilege of representing them in Harrisburg,” Merski said. “This has been an extremely difficult year, but our community has shown strength and courage throughout. “We still have a lot of work to do in combating COVID-19 and building back an economy that works for everyone. My top priority in the year ahead will be fighting to bring as much money back to the region as possible, and I have already signed onto legislation for more COVID relief for our small businesses. As we build back, I will also be working to increase job and career training opportunities and broaden access to high-quality public education and health care. A healthy economy is only half the battle. The other half is ensuring people have the services they need and the opportunities they deserve. “As always, I encourage residents to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Hearing from our community helps me be the strongest Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $162k to launch Erie watershed steward program

(Dec 30, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 30 – A $162,422 grant to the Pennsylvania State University will help ensure Erie volunteers have the knowledge and resources they need to keep stewardship of the coastal region alive and well, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program will fund the Erie launch of the Master Watershed Steward Program, which will train volunteers in watershed management so they can educate the community based on the latest university research and recommendations. “The steward program will broaden the knowledge base of Erie’s many volunteers who are devoted to caring for our coast and protecting our watershed,” said Harkins, who is a member of the Great Lakes Commission. “Armed with the latest information and research, those volunteers can pass this information along at the local level. Launch of the program in our area – made possible by this funding – is going to ensure that our precious lake region benefits from state-of-the-state conservation and management techniques.” Merski said: “Erie has some incredibly talented volunteers who understand our coastal region’s unique needs. But maintaining a balance between use and enjoyment on one hand and preservation of delicate ecosystems on the other is a constant Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $23 million to fund multiple Erie revitalization projects

(Dec 23, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 23 – Erie will be receiving an infusion of $23 million in funding from the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, state Reps. Patrick Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding includes major capital investments that will spur growth and economic development for the area. “The funding awarded today brings the promise of major change and revitalization for Erie and our entire region,” Merski said. “The grants will be funding projects that are truly transformative, from a new community college to renovations for Mercyhurst University’s athletic center to new commercial development. We will also see funding to renovate and expand the SeaWolves’ team clubhouse and add a new structure to the park – the kind of investments that help keep our beloved SeaWolves here in Erie.” Harkins said, “The funding announced today will act as a shot in the arm for economic growth and development by building on so many of Erie’s existing resources. We will see funding to expand Liberty Park, development of new industrial facilities, and expansion and upgrades for many facilities and cultural attractions. All the investments help us attract new businesses, residents and visitors to the area. We appreciate Governor Tom Wolf’s assistance in helping bring this money to Erie.” The lawmakers Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $250,000 in Lake Erie coastal grants awarded

(Dec 17, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 17 – Grant funding of $252,717 from the state Department of Environmental Protection will support efforts to protect and preserve Lake Erie’s coastal zone region and fund related projects, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants will fund technical support and assistance for ongoing efforts to manage and protect the Lake Erie watershed; testing and analysis of algae-based toxins; rehabilitation of the Lakeside Park boat launch ramp, resources for an educational camp, and other projects. “One of the unique aspects of Erie County is that more than three-quarters of our residents live within a coastal zone,” said Harkins, who is a member of the Great Lakes Commission. “Having that concentrated population stresses the ecosystem and creates problems such as nonpoint source pollution, water quality issues and shoreline erosion that threaten the natural environment. This funding is going to help us stave off these threats. “Our district is also receiving nearly $50,000 to restore the Lakeside Park boat launch ramp infrastructure and restore it to its original condition for residents to ensure maximum safe use for residents.” Merski said: “Those of us who grew up along Lake Erie’s shores understand the special joys – and many economic benefits – the lake provides. But Read more

 

Merski offers pandemic resource help sheet, announces food distribution event for service industry workers

(Dec 16, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 16 -- State Rep. Bob Merski announced that his office is providing a free pandemic help sheet for residents and that Second Harvest Food Bank will be hosting a special food-distribution event from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 19 to benefit service industry workers impacted by layoffs and work reductions. Merski, D-Erie, said he and his staff have been working with area utility providers, the United Way, and Second Harvest Food Bank for solutions to help workers who are temporarily laid off and still experiencing hardships due to the pandemic. “There may be hope on the horizon in the form of a vaccine, but that is not a panacea for the many Erie workers and small-business owners feeling the economic brunt of the pandemic,” Merski said. “Through no fault of their own, workers in the service industry have been especially hard hit. “The Second Harvest food distribution on Dec. 19 is a special event for the many workers laid off from jobs as servers, bartenders, casino workers, fitness industry staff and other positions in the service industry. The event will be held at the food bank’s 1507 Grimm Drive location from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday Dec. 19, but those who plan to participate must pre-register by 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, by calling Second Harvest at 459-3663, ext. 114. “I also want to remind all residents that the utility providers in our community offer flexible payment plans and are willing to work with Read more

 

Erie officials debut new firetruck, thank Harkins, Merski for securing funding

(Dec 16, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 16 – At a news conference this morning, Erie city and fire officials unveiled the latest addition to the Erie Fire Department’s fleet: a new engine acquired with state funding secured by Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said securing $300,000 toward the purchase of a 2020 Pierce pumper truck – the second truck they helped the department obtain in two years – provided a chance to give something back to the city’s frontline heroes. “Erie firefighters are asked to do so much with such limited resources, and they always rise to the challenge,” said Harkins. “They have worked hard through the years to maintain an aging fleet of vehicles. “Despite those efforts, the older trucks and equipment begin requiring more frequent and costly repairs, to the point where maintenance is no longer cost-effective. Securing funding for fleet upgrades like this one and last year’s new rig for the crews of Engine 6 means less down time for crews, more cost-efficient operations and, ultimately, savings for Erie’s taxpayers.” Merski said: “ As a former Erie city council member, I know there is a need to replace our aging fire apparatus, with many engines at the end of their recommended time as frontline vehicles. Replacing a fire engine is a very expensive line item for the city budget, and financial challenges Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Penn State Behrend awarded $200,000 to develop tech training center for regional manufacturers
Feb 10, 2021

Merski demands answers, accountability at vaccine rollout hearing
Feb 08, 2021

Merski: New loan to local Erie business will stimulate new business for region
Feb 03, 2021

Merski supports proposed budget investments in education, working families, public health
Feb 03, 2021

State Grant Programs Now Open for Applications: Oct. 4 Update
Feb 02, 2021

Merski, Harkins assume new leadership roles in Northwest Delegation
Jan 28, 2021

Merski, Harkins laud Erie blogger honored by historical society
Jan 27, 2021

Troubleshooting PUA claims: How to reopen/reactivate a PUA claim
Jan 27, 2021

Merski launching February food and care product drive
Jan 26, 2021

Merski, Harkins co-hosting COVID-19 Virtual Vaccine Town Hall Jan. 25
Jan 21, 2021

Merski, Harkins: More than $41.4 million to Erie schools to support continued learning during pandemic
Jan 15, 2021

Merski announces House committee appointments for 2021-22 legislative session
Jan 12, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Erie senior centers to benefit from nearly $50,000 in grants
Jan 07, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $30,000 awarded to Mercyhurst University as part of statewide campaign to combat campus sexual assault
Jan 06, 2021

Merski sworn in for second term representing 2nd Legislative District
Jan 05, 2021

Harkins, Merski: More than $162k to launch Erie watershed steward program
Dec 30, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $23 million to fund multiple Erie revitalization projects
Dec 23, 2020

Harkins, Merski: More than $250,000 in Lake Erie coastal grants awarded
Dec 17, 2020

Merski offers pandemic resource help sheet, announces food distribution event for service industry workers
Dec 16, 2020

Erie officials debut new firetruck, thank Harkins, Merski for securing funding
Dec 16, 2020