New Castle News

Closer Look

February 5, 2014

Process created for selecting projects

NEW CASTLE — New Castle’s economic development director has created a new process to select projects eligible for state funding.

The city has received interest from approximately 10 individuals or business interests seeking a slice of the money remaining from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant to expand or locate businesses in the downtown.

The proposals, most of which were received last year, range from opening a restaurant to creating an athletic club and gym.

Matthew Staniszewski estimates $200,000 will be remaining from the $5 million grant after the city completes some other projects in the downtown.

He said the new process “best protects the city and the taxpayer to make sure we’re making sound investments in the downtown area.”

“By creating a grant application, we’re standardizing the process and enabling any business owner to expand or locate in the city on a level playing field; to give everyone a fair opportunity.”

He said it’s a process that is similar to those used by other economic development departments across the United States.

Staniszewski said he has been emailing applications to those who have expressed an interest. He also is in the process of creating a committee made up of city officials that will make recommendations to council. Projects approved by council must go to Harrisburg for final approval.

Applicants will need to show they have other sources of funds, the number of jobs to be created and the scope of work for their projects.

The state places “a lot of conditions” on the funding, he said, adding, “We have to adhere to these special conditions. Typically, they’re used for multimillion-dollar projects.”

The same conditions apply to everyone regardless of whether they are planning a $50,000 project or a $20 million project, he said.

“We certainly want to encourage people to apply, but also educate them on the special conditions that Harrisburg requires.”

Conditions that have to be met include an environmental study performed by a licensed firm and construction specifications drawn up by a licensed engineer. Applicants also must show they have control of the site, either that they own the property or have a lease that is at least 20 years in length.

Applicants must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and prevailing wage laws. The latter, Staniszewski said, could increase the project cost by 30 percent.

He said the city will consider applications on a first-come, first-served basis and until council has earmarked all of the remaining money.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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