U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has announced that the department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $2 million grant to the Clearfield County Economic Development Corporation to help construct a new River’s Landing facility to accommodate small business tenants, according to a press release.
The grant will be matched with $2.28 million in state and local funds, and is expected to help create 50 jobs and generate $10 million in private investment.
“The Trump Administration is fulfilling the President’s promise to America’s coal workers by investing in new jobs and infrastructure across coal country,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This project will attract business and economic development to the Clearfield Opportunity Zone.”
The project will construct a 12,000 square-foot building on an urban brownfield site, which will provide readily available space for business and entrepreneurial tenants.
CCEDC CEO Rob Swales told The Progress in a telephone interview that the grant will be used to construct the River’s Landing facility on the vacant lot at the end of the Riverwalk on West Market Street. The new facility will have space on its first floor for a restaurant as well as space for small businesses. The second floor will house the CCEDC’s new offices, office space and shared office space for small business startups and event space, Swales said.
The new facility would house new business startups needing office space, or space for research and development, product development, marketing etc. The facility would allow startups to share space as a means of cutting costs, but would not house any manufacturing or production, according to Swales.
Swales said the project would also include additional work on the nearby Riverwalk. Swales said this would include additional parking for the Riverwalk behind the Market Square building (former Uni-Mart) on E. Market Street and a new sidewalk connecting the Market Street Bridge with Lower Witmer Park.
Swales said they are hoping to start construction before the end of the year, but said they might have to wait until next spring. He said the CCEDC previously placed the project out for bid, but bids came in higher than expected; therefore additional funding for the project was sought.
He said the federal government will appoint a project manager to oversee construction within 30-45 days. Once the project manager is appointed, Swales said the CCEDC and the project manager will determine whether the project should be re-bid and when the construction timetable would be.
CCEDC’s offices are currently located in the former FCI building in Clearfield. Swales said he could not comment on any future plans for the FCI Building.
According to the press release, the River’s Landing project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning & Development Commission. EDA funds the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning & Development Commission to help bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment, and create jobs.
“The River’s Landing project is a prime example of a Brownfield redevelopment initiative within a Federal Opportunity Zone and has the potential to bring revitalization and new business and employment opportunities to downtown Clearfield,” said Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Bellefonte. “We must advance these types of innovative economic development projects throughout our region, especially for communities that have suffered negative impacts from declining coal production.”
This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities program /www.eda.gov/coal, through which EDA will award funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.