The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority is tackling blight, one main street at a time. An empty building or worn down storefront can leave a lasting impression. Today, ECGRA is investing $130,000 to rejuvenate local neighborhoods.
In downtown Edinboro, there are few empty storefronts but the Borough Manager, Kevin Opple, says this small community still needs some help. That’s why local leaders are working with ECGRA; to spark an energy in business owners and visitors.
“Suddenly when you see it newly painted, you see new windows, you see new storefronts, you revisit why this is such a great community,” says Opple. The Borough of Edinboro is one of nine organizations receiving grants through Mission Main Street. Local governments, neighborhood groups, and preservationist are using the money to revitalize communities throughout Erie County.
Gisele Littrell, of French Maids and Strong Man Services, is accepting $10,000 with the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network to enhance the area now known as Independence Hill. Littrel says, “We’re looking to reach out, not only give back to our charities within the area as a collective business group, but also to encourage new consumers to come into our area that might not live downtown.”
Officials with EGCRA say providing these funds to businesses and communities helps solve the county-wide blight problem. Perry Wood, ECGRA Executive Director, says, “If you’re a property owner and you’re debating whether or not to invest, a small grant program can actually be the thing that gets you to invest in that new sign, in that new coat of paint, and improving the facade of your historic building.”
Over the last five years, EGCRA has invested more than $462,000 through the Mission Main Street Grants. All of the grantees are required to match ECGRA’s investment, guaranteeing a minimum of $925,000 spent on revitalizing main streets since the program began five years ago.