New Kensington to benefit from program that put $750K into Jeannette
A program that has pumped $750,000 into Jeannette is coming to an end this year.
New Kensington now stands to get $1.2 million invested into the community over the next six years, said Tay Waltenbaugh, director of Westmoreland Community Action.
“I think it's only a positive climb for Jeannette, and we're hoping to do the same in New Kensington,” he said.
The Neighborhood Partnership Program enables local companies to donate a portion of their state taxes for use in community projects through the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Community, governmental and business leaders gather regularly during the program to discuss and implement projects.
New Kensington's six-year program is getting underway. UPMC and BNY Mellon will funnel $200,000 there annually, Waltenbaugh said. Efforts will be focused on the downtown area, blight removal and a partnership with Penn State New Kensington's LaunchBox, a 10-week training session geared toward entrepreneurs.
“We really want to target the downtown corridor and improve some businesses,” he said.
New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said the city will look to business owners and people invested in the community to see what should be done with the money.
“We'll be investing with some business owners for beautification and facade improvement and things of that nature, some business assistance activities, some streetscape,” Guzzo said. “This really falls together with all of the revitalization that we are doing right now, and it just piggybacks off of so many of the things that have been happening.
“This is a real nice shot in the arm for us.”
In Jeannette, the program is in its fifth and final year. Elliott Group and KeyBank, previously First Niagara Bank, have directed $150,000 annually toward beautification efforts, Waltenbaugh said.
“Jeannette's come a long way,” he said. “Jeannette has more opportunities than any other community in the county.”
Projects there have included the demolition of blighted properties, improvements at Altman Park, purchase of a chandelier for city hall, and cleanup and painting of a railroad underpass. Planning is underway for an amphitheater along Clay Avenue to take over a vacant spot where a three-story building caught fire and collapsed nearly two years ago.
Jeannette community development director Diana Reitz said she is sad to see the funding source end.
“It's been a vital organization,” she said. “They take over when maybe government can't, and they provide financial means to do things that are complementary to the community.”
Renatta Signorini and Madasyn Czebiniak are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Signorini at 724-837-5374, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @byrenatta. Reach Czebiniak at 724-226-4702, email@example.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.