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Five Projects Awarded $5.5 Million in State Redevelopment Grants

I was very pleased to announce that five redevelopment projects throughout the 22nd Senatorial District will receive $5.5 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants.

This RACP funding will be incredibly impactful for our region in community and economic development; availability of quality health and mental health care; school security; and access to job training and business support for area women.

The Wright Center for Community Health received $1.5 million to open a 36,000 sq. ft. primary care clinic at 501 S. Washington Avenue in Scranton that will house its Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence. The funds will equip the space for primary care, dental, and behavioral health services, and for the training of primary care physicians.

The Wright Center has been an essential and reliable health care partner in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and they have already secured a commitment of federal New Markets Tax Credits and significant philanthropic support for this important $10 million project.

The project to redevelop the former Scranton Laceworks factory received $2 million to restore the most significant and original buildings at the complex. The RACP funds will be used for design, engineering, historic preservation and construction services required to successfully stabilize and enhance the historic essence of the historic Laceworks complex.

Also in Scranton, United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania received $500,000 to establish the South Scranton Woman’s Business Incubator. This project will renovate the former People's Security Bank into an incubator targeted to provide intensive business support and training to women

United Neighborhood Centers has worked for years to completely transform South Scranton from an unsafe area stagnated by disinvestment into a beautiful, mixed use community with stable commercial and residential development. This redevelopment project completes UNC’s vision for South Scranton and will be an incredible asset to women looking to build their business or enhance their careers.

Additionally, Old Forge School District received $500,000 to make a number of energy efficiency and security upgrades to their facilities. 

In Luzerne County, Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance received $1 million to fund an addition on the Interstate Building Materials manufacturing facility in Pittston Township. The addition will increase office and warehouse space.

I commend the Wolf Administration for their continued dedication to important redevelopment projects throughout our region and across the Commonwealth.

Touring Pennsylvania's Impressive Military Installations

As chairman of the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission (PMCEC), I recognize the defense support and economic impact of all of our military installations in this Commonwealth.  I recently had the honor to tour both the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh and locally, Tobyhanna Army Depot.  

At the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh, I was able to meet some of the 1,220 Air Force Reserve members that provide force support in various military career specialties. The base also employs approximately 350 Department of Defense civilians. Many of these civilians hold a dual status within the Air Reserve Technician program. When mobilization occurs, the unit primarily supports the Air Force's Air Mobility Command.  Vice-Commander Miller and the members of the 911th Airlift Wing were great hosts and educated us on the remarkable, highly advanced strategic operations that these fine men and women undertake in service to our country.

While at Tobyhanna Army Depot, our leadership from the PMCEC received a Command Briefing and tour of Tobyhanna Army Depot.  Depot Commander COL John McDonald, Deputy Commander Frank Zardecki, and their staff provided a first-hand opportunity to see their world-class logistical support for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna Army Depot continues to be our region’s largest industrial employer and is critically important to our regional and state economy.

For more images of my recent visits to the 911th Airlift Wing and Tobyhanna Army Depot, click here.

Sen. Blake Hosts Sen. Haywood's Poverty Listening Tour in Scranton

Sen. Blake discusses Poverty Listening Tour stop in ScrantonIt was a pleasure to host Senator Art Haywood in Scranton recently as part of his Poverty Listening Tour. We had great discussions with a number of service providers and residents about the challenges they face in our region involving public transportation, food insecurity, job training and access to family sustaining jobs.

In Scranton, we first held a roundtable discussion with service providers at the United Neighborhood Center Community Services Office in Scranton. We then visited with residents at St. Francis Soup Kitchen in Scranton to hear about the food insecurity issues in our region. Lastly, we met with administrators at Scranton Primary Health Care Center and toured their facility which provides health care services to many residents who are uninsured or underinsured.

Since May, Senator Haywood has toured the state to hear about the effects of poverty across Pennsylvania. Senator Haywood's Poverty Listening Tour also made stops in Philadelphia, Erie, Lock Haven and McKeesport. After visiting all five regions of our state, Senator Haywood will be compiling a report on his finding about poverty in Pennsylvania. I look forward to reviewing Senator Haywood's report with the findings from his statewide tour and working on legislative solutions to help Pennsylvanians escape from poverty.

Around the District

Recently presented Doreen and her staff at ABC Academy in downtown Carbondale a certificate honoring their facility for 30 years of quality child care.
Very glad to join Geisinger President and CEO Jaewon Ryu and a number of local officials and Geisinger executives for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Fresh Food Farmacy in Scranton. This innovative program aims to improve health outcomes through proper nutrition and diet. At capacity, the Scranton location will serve 500 patients per week and more than 2,000 community members.
It was an honor to be asked to play music at the Glenmaura National Charity Golf Tournament earlier this month. With the support of golfers and sponsors, the tournament was able to raise $15,000 for the Foundation for Cancer Care which is an incredible local resource for cancer patients and their families.
Recently met with bright young students from Abington Heights High School who established Abington Heights Period to advocate for women's health by distributing menstrual hygiene products to girls and women in need and organizing community donation drives to collect such products so they can be available to girls in our schools.

DEP Accepting Applications for Small Business Advantage Grant Program

DEPThe Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced that $1 million in grant funding will be available to Pennsylvania small businesses and farmers for energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and natural resource protection projects through the Small Business Advantage grant program.

Pennsylvania-based small business owners with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees are eligible. Projects must save the business a minimum of $500 and 25 percent annually in energy consumption, or pollution-related expenses.

Eligible projects include adopting or acquiring equipment or processes that reduce energy use or pollution. Examples of eligible projects are HVAC and boiler upgrades; high-efficiency LED lighting; solvent recovery and waste recycling systems; and auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks. 

Eligible businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds of up to $7,000 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. Only costs incurred between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, are eligible. Last year, nearly 200 small businesses were awarded more than $947,000 in grants for eligible projects.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2019-20 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2020, whichever occurs first. All applications must be submitted through the commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance website.

For more information on the Small Business Advantage Grant program, click here.  

Deadline to Apply for PennDOT Rail Freight Grant Programs is August 30

TrainPennDOT recently opened the application period for the 2019 Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP). These two programs are critically important state investments in our rail infrastructure that protect jobs and generate economic activity throughout the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania ranks first in the country in the number of operating railroads, with 65, and ranks near the top in total track mileage, with more than 5,600 miles. And in 2018, PennDOT awarded $23 million for 27 rail freight projects.

I encourage all of our eligible freight railroads, freight railroad served shippers, and economic development entities to apply for this funding.

Applications for both the RTAP and RFAP programs are available on the PennDOT’s application website. The deadline to apply to either of these programs is Friday, August 30.

For more information on these programs, click here.

Inaugural Electric City Classic Cycling Races Set for August 24 & 25Electric City Classic

Electric City ClassicThe inaugural Electric City Classic will be held next weekend, on Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25 in downtown Scranton. The Electric City Classic, a weekend of bike races presented by Scranton Tomorrow and The Wright Center for Community Health, will feature a Criterium race on Saturday and the Electric City Classic Hill Climb on the Olive Street hill in East Scranton on Sunday.

The Electric City Classic will attract professional athletes from across the country and around the world to compete in the Criterium and hill climb. A Criterium, or Crit, is a race on a short-circuit course where professional and amateur cyclists complete multiple laps at speeds up to 45-miles per hour.

The first Crit race will start at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday.  The race begins and ends at the corner of Linden Street and Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton. In addition to the exciting cycling races, the Electric City Classic will also feature a number of food vendors, entertainment and live music throughout the day on Saturday.

For more information on the Electric City Classic, click here.

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Offices to Serve You


District Office
Oppenheim Building
409 Lackawanna Ave., Ste. 210
Scranton, PA 18503
Phone: (570) 207-2881
Fax: (570) 207-2897
Toll free: 1-877-346-5721
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Harrisburg Office
Room 17 East Wing
The State Capitol
Senate Box 203022
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3022
Phone: (717) 787-6481
Fax: (717) 783-5198
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.