Blight Roundtable discussions in Erie today

It's a question of what's working and what is holding Erie back as Erie leaders lay it all out on the table for a few state senators.

Local government and community leaders work together, as Erie leaders and neighborhood groups express the strengths and struggles of revitalizing Erie.  It was a full house at the Senate Committee Roundtable today.  The senate asking for feedback, criticism, and new ideas on programs to help fight blight.

Jeremy Bloeser of the Bayfront East Side Task Force, tells us, "they have a lot that we already are benefiting from; some of the tax credits and there is always a battle for state budget dollars so we want to let them know the value of those dollars helping us accomplish what we are able to accomplish".  

A concern of Dave Deeter, of the city's Redevelopment Authority, is the prevailing wage issue.  He says it is hurting his office's progress.  "We are in the unfortunate situation that we have to cap level of assistance to $25,000 knowing there are several properties in the community that need more than $25,000 to make safe".

Another issue, high property taxes in the city, and a new amendment on the November ballot could help change the constitution, providing some tax relief.  Senator David Argall (R) says, "it would give future legislatures; future local governments more options in eliminating school property tax".

Laughlin says one way to fight blight is to bring back jobs, that's why he has sent a letter to the governor asking him for help to make Erie the spot for Amazon's new headquarters.  "When you look at our region and our natural resources, because Amazon is also into the enivronment, I think we can make the pitch [for] Erie with a pretty straight face," says Laughlin.  He says while Erie doesn't have all the qualifications, he believes we will still have a shot.  

Amazon promises an influx of 50,000 new jobs, $5 billion in initial city investment and at least 8 million square feet of development at this second headquarter site, wherever that may be.

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