The Lead

Perry Co. receives ‘main street’ designation in community and economic development program

By: - January 26, 2023 1:29 pm

(l-r): Martha Roberts, board chair of the Perry County Economic Development Authority; Julie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Downtown Center; State Rep. Perry Stambaugh; Michelle Jones, executive director, Perry County Economic Development Authority; and Rick Vilello, DCED deputy secretary of Community Affairs and Development at Wilderlove Coffee Company in Duncannon on Thurs., Jan. 26, 2023 (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

DUNCANNON, Pa. — Perry County received its first “main street” designation on Thursday as part of a state program to revitalize and develop communities across the Commonwealth. 

State officials and local business leaders gathered in downtown Duncannon to announce the designation, which they say will invest in towns across the rural county, including Blain, Duncannon, Landisburg, Liverpool, Marysville, Millerstown, New Bloomfield, New Buffalo, and Newport. 

Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary of Community Affairs and Development Rick Vilello said that the goal of the Keystone Communities Main Street program, a grant program administered by DCED is “to spur economic development and support small businesses across Pennsylvania.” 

“This regional program will provide the participating communities with the tools they need to make all of Perry County a better place to live, work, and play for many years to come,” Vilello said, adding that the program encourages collaboration between the public and private sectors. 

As part of the program, the nine communities are now eligible to receive technical assistance and programmatic support from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC), a nonprofit specializing in community revitalization, over the next five years.

Martha Roberts, board chair of the Perry County Economic Development Authority, said that “the ultimate goal is to make Perry County a more vibrant and economically resilient community.” 

Roberts added that revitalization strategies used in Perry County were tailored to help each of the communities and were developed “with participation from borough leaders, residents, and business owners.” 

Julie Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, echoed Roberts, saying that the work to support businesses and boost community development will be done in a way that maintains Perry County’s unique heritage and legacy. 

“Although Perry County’s designation is its first Regional Keystone Communities Main Street, in years past, this regional revitalization approach has been utilized in other regions or counties throughout the commonwealth along a corridor, trail or waterway or around similar economic generators with industrial or cultural heritage legacies,” Fitzpatrick said. “This regional strategy is an ideal way to support smaller, usually rural communities to encourage sustainable economic development and improve the quality of life for the local residents.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.