Reading's representative in Washington is making a big push for the city to be awarded one of Pennsylvania's two City Revitalization and Improvement Zone designations.
U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts said Wednesday that he has spoken with Gov. Tom Corbett, Secretary of Budget Charles Zogby, Secretary of Community and Economic Development Alan Walker and Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser to support the city’s CRIZ application.
"I had good conversations with Gov. Corbett and his secretaries about what the CRIZ designation would mean for Reading," said Pitts, a Republican. "I believe that this program will help generate the jobs that Reading needs."
The city formally submitted its CRIZ application to the state on Nov. 25. It was compiled by a coalition of local business and community leaders who make up the City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority (CRRIZA), which is led by Peter Rye, president, Brentwood Industries.
"Mayor [Vaughn] Spencer has done a great job of putting together the application and building a coalition to get the designation approved," Pitts said. "I appreciate the governor and his secretaries listening to my appeal and I am confident that the city has made a strong case for participating in the program."
The state is expected to decide by Dec. 15 which two cities will be awarded CRIZ designations. Currently, eight cities are eligible, including Lancaster, York and Bethlehem. Two additional cities are expected to be selected in 2016.
Reading's state legislative delegation, including Sen. Judy Schwank and Rep. Tom Caltagirone, also supports the city's efforts.
If Reading is selected, the CRRIZA would have the ability to issue bonds for development within the CRIZ, which is proposed to include the city's recently acquired properties in the 400 block of Penn Street, the Abraham Lincoln (Wyndham) Hotel on North 5th Street, the former Baldwin Brass facility, the former Luden’s candy factory and the Rockland Plaza shopping center near Albright College.
The authority would then, in turn, receive various state and local taxes generated as the result of the development with the goal of not only increasing revenue but creating jobs and fostering business opportunities.