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Mon Valley Progress Council earns $50,000 state grant

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 12:46 a.m.

An ongoing regional Enterprise Zone program is receiving a boost from the state.

The Mon Valley Progress Council was awarded a $50,000 Keystone Communities grant, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker announced Tuesday.

The program was established in 2011 to assist state municipalities in revitalization efforts. The program supports physical improvements in both designated and other communities undertaking revitalization efforts to restore deteriorated downtown areas, residential neighborhoods, and industrial and manufacturing sites.

Joe Kirk, executive director of the Mon Valley Progress Council, said the grant will support staff time spent during the current state fiscal year working with the member communities.

The fiscal year ends June 30.

The participating zone municipalities comprise Belle Vernon, Brownsville, California, Charleroi, Donora, Monongahela, Monessen, North Charleroi and Speers.

“We did a strategic plan when we started the process,” Kirk said.

“We identified communities with economic stress and large areas of manufacturing employment. We invited the Valley communities to participate, and those listed passed resolutions to participate.”

There is no cost to municipalities that participate.

This is the fifth year for the progress council-led Mid-Mon Valley Regional Enterprise Zone. It is one of the larger enterprise zones programs in the state, Kirk noted.

The state encourages multi-community enterprise zones.

“We work with businesses in basically industrial-zoned areas,” Kirk said. “We attempt to acquire loans and grants for them. We have been most successful getting them tax credits.”

Kirk said the progress council has obtained tax credits totaling $1.2 million for Brownsville Marine as well as ArcelorMittal and Alumisource, both in Monessen.

“We send notices to local business in these enterprise zones regarding the availability of state funding,” Kirk said.

In a statement, state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, applauded the grant award.

“I support this initiative by the Corbett administration and all the work the Mon Valley Progress Council has done to promote, develop and sustain economic growth in the region,” Solobay.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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