After a history of neglect, a district in the city of Erie is transforming and it’s getting help on its journey.
More than a dozen businesses line a portion of Peach Street and as the weather warms up and more people walk the strip, business owners want to make sure that customers feel safe.
The Learning Ladder Early Childcare Center is nestled in a thriving area with businesses boasting colorful exteriors and plenty of shopping options, but these buildings used to get attention for a different reason.
Owners Sean and Kenya Johnson say they’ve watched Independence Hill flourish since buying the building a year ago. Sean tells us, “Graffiti was everywhere. It was buildings with deferred maintenance… Now, you can just see the vibrance and the spirit that’s coming up. Just, one things sparks another. Someone does something to their building. Someone else does something.”
But, there is still work to be done. Business owners want to install surveillance cameras, exterior lighting, and improve the streetscape.
Gisele Littrell, President of Independence Hill Collaborative, says, “The entire reason for the initiative behind the collaborative [is] not only to develop economic growth but also to improve the security and safety of the shoppers.”
To help that effort, the District’s Association, The Independence Hill Collaborative of Erie, will get help as the first recipient of Erie’s first microgrant program. The city of Erie is awarding a $2,500 matching grant to the Independence Hill Business District.
Director of Economic & Community Development, Chris Groner, says, “We’re actually going to be able to help multiple businesses at once with this application. So, it’s a great way to start off with the Flagship Fund.”
The money from the Flagship Fund Microgrant is generated by interest from the city’s Economic Development Loan Fund. The money will combine with a $10,000 grant from ECGRA and money from fundraising efforts and other organizations, totaling to more than $20,000 for the improvements.
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