Kudos to Impact Harrisburg for a job well done: It should keep doing it l PennLive Editorial

For the past seven years, Impact Harrisburg has been quietly doling out millions of dollars to stimulate economic development in a city that sorely needed a financial boost.

And now, it’s almost out of money and looking for a new way to continue to help the city maintain financial stability.

City of Harrisburg formally exits receivership March 1

Governor Tom Corbett joins Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, city and county officials and Gen. William Lynch, who has served as Receiver since September 2011, at a press conference Wednesday in the atrium of the City Government Center to announce the end of the Receivership for the City of Harrisburg. Former Mayor Linda Thompson speaks. Harrisburg will formally exit receivership March 1. 02/26/2014 Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com PENNLIVE.COMPENNLIVE.COM

Impact Harrisburg was the shot in the arm the city needed in 2015 as it struggled to emerge from receivership and create a stable economic atmosphere to stimulate new business and attract new residents. Impact Harrisburg worked not only with former Mayor Eric Papenfuse and the City Council to restore financial stability to the city, but it also reached out to directly support dozens of nonprofits and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Recession.

And what is even more remarkable, it gave away millions of dollars without scandal, malfeasance, shady dealing, or pursuit of a political agenda.

Anyone who knows anything about the financial history of Harrisburg knows that’s an accomplishment in itself. It’s also a testament to the integrity and dedication of the people who did the behind the scenes work to make sure the people of Harrisburg benefitted from the more than $12.3 million dollars of state funding allocated for economic development under the Strong Plan.

Sheila Dow Ford

Sheila Dow Ford, a retired attorney and former Congressional candidate, served as Executive Director of Impact Harrisburg.
Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

They include Executive Director Sheila Dow Ford and a board of directors that includes Neil Grover, Doug Hill, Brian Hudson, Brittany Brock, Dale Laninga, Russ Montgomery, Jacqueline Z. Parker, Gloria Martin-Roberts, and Karl Singleton. They spent the past seven years focused on three major goals:

· To improve the city’s tax base through real estate development to bring in more revenue

· To create permanent jobs within the city with a focus on creating jobs for city residents

· To help make the City of Harrisburg a more livable city

It’s fair to say Impact Harrisburg made significant inroads on all three.

In just its first round of funding projects, Impact Harrisburg provided grants to 14 projects within the City of Harrisburg.

South Harrisburg Paving Project

Much of Berryhill Street in South Harrisburg is deteriorated, including this stretch in front of the Boys and Girls Club near Crescent Street.

In July 2016, it awarded $2.7 million to help the City of Harrisburg repave some heavily traveled streets and Capital Region Water upgrade underground pipes and install “green” stormwater infrastructure in the work area.

In October 2016, it awarded $4.2M in economic development grants and announced the start of the Harrisburg Business Opportunity Fund, a loan fund dedicated to supporting business and commercial development in the city.

Then, in April 2018, it launched a $1 million loan program to support new businesses and jobs in the city.

To help cope with COVID, Impact Harrisburg distributed more than $1.5 million in its Neighborhood Business Stabilization Program, which helped to keep dozens of businesses and nonprofits afloat during the economic shutdown.

Camp Curtin YMCA

Camp Curtin YMCA looks to build up neighborhood with new home construction

Real people and grassroots organizations benefitted from its largess, among them: Camp Curtin YMCA, which received a $500,000 grant to renovate its swimming pool annex. It also gave $350,000 for Tri-County Home Development Corporation to support the Mulder Square project that focused on renovating homes in Allison Hill. And TLC Construction got $500,000 to renovate the Hamilton Health Center.

Governor Wolf visits Hamilton Health Center

Gov. Tom Wolf visits Hamilton Health Center, the location of an upcoming public vaccination clinic, to highlight partnerships established to ensure an equitable vaccine distribution across the commonwealth and encourage eligible Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated. October 06, 2021 Sean Simmers |ssimmers@pennlive.com

There are plenty of other projects Impact Harrisburg supported, including the Gamut Theater Education Center, to the tune of $250,000; Paxton Place Senior Living with a grant of $100,000; and $500,000 to Capital Region Water for playground upgrades. It’s all on the Impact Harrisburg website in detail, a sign of Impact Harrisburg’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

Dow Ford and the Impact Harrisburg board deserve commendation for being good stewards of the people’s money. With millions of federal Rescue Act money coming to Harrisburg, the city still needs such good stewards now more than ever.

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