Westmoreland Development Council Newsletter
Seal of Westmoreland County

Community Development

Proposed Budget Could Affect CDBG & HOME Programs

The proposed federal budget for the 2018 fiscal year calls for significant cuts to the budget of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These cuts would include substantial funding reductions to two programs which benefit residents of Westmoreland County, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs.  
The CDBG program has been the primary funding source for the county, in cooperation with local governments, for essential infrastructure improvements such as street reconstruction, storm water facilities, sanitary sewer facilities, water facilities, and alleviation of blight. These funds have also enabled the county and its local municipalities to address needs in recreational facilities and improve accessibility for physically disabled persons. 

Since 2007, over $39 million has been expended to sustain and improve public infrastructure in municipalities throughout Westmoreland County. However, over the last ten years, Westmoreland County’s annual funding level under CDBG has decreased 31 percent. Without financial assistance from the federal level, local and county governments will struggle to maintain and rehabilitate these essential amenities.
The HOME program provides housing assistance for low and moderate income owner and rental families and individuals. Whether through direct support to promote homeownership, construction of new housing, or rehabilitation of deteriorated housing, the HOME program provides opportunities for decent and safe housing which would otherwise be unaffordable.  As with the CDBG program, the County’s yearly allocation for the HOME program has been reduced dramatically over the last decade from $1.24 million to $630,000. A decrease of 49 percent. 

Recognizing that the proposed budget is not final, the Community Development Department is reaching out to the elected officials encouraging them to consider continued funding of these essential programs.

Photo of Bert Getto

Deputy Director to Retire in May

Community Development’s Deputy Director Bert Getto will retire on May 19, after 26 years with the department. 

Getto, who was hired as a local government coordinator in 1991, always knew he wanted to stay with the department until his retirement. “I feel lucky I can retire from this job,” explained Getto. 

Originally from Ford City in neighboring Armstrong County, the prospect of moving to Westmoreland County was his motivation for taking the job almost three decades ago. “I knew if there was a job opportunity in Westmoreland County I was going to take it,” said Getto. “There is more of everything to do here.” 

Asked about his biggest accomplishment during his tenure with the department, that would be the Seton Hill Arts Center located along Harrison Avenue in Greensburg. The community development department played a major role in acquisition and site clearance. Along with assisting in the relocation of businesses and residents who were located at the future site of the arts center.

While consistent cutbacks in federal funding has made the job more challenging in recent years, Getto is proud of the work his department has accomplished through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs.  The one of thing Getto will miss the most about coming to the office– it’s his colleagues. “We have a great working environment here.”
After his retirement, Getto and his wife will check a city off their must-see list with a trip to New York City. When they return his wife might be planning for work around the house to get done, but Getto said he plans to “catch up on reading and ignore the ‘honey do’ list.”  

Taking over the role of Deputy Director will be Janet Thomas. Thomas spent the last 19 years with the City of Sharon’s Community Development Department. She began working with the organization in 1997, and after holding various roles, she was named Executive Director in 2012. 

In her new position, Thomas looks forward to implementing her existing community development program knowledge and skills with “broader-based” challenges of county-wide programs. 

“Westmoreland County proposes an abundant environment to move forward the already exciting and functioning programmatic infrastructures to take the county and programs to higher levels of service to the communities within the county,” explains Thomas. 
Thomas is not a stranger to the Community Development offices. She was able to visit several times over the past two years and says, “I always felt welcomed, and I am looking forward to being part of the county.”

Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland

Economic Growth Connection

EGC announces new enhancements to PIDA financing programs

EGC is pleased to announce two new enhancements to Business Financing Programs offered through the Commonwealth’s Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA).

 The first enhancement involves increasing the lending limit for machinery and equipment loans to $1,500,000, from the previous limit of $400,000, for eligible purchases in manufacturing, industrial, biotechnology, and computer related service enterprises.

The second enhancement is related to a new term offering for PIDA loans used to finance eligible real estate costs such as acquisition, construction, or renovation projects.  PIDA has in the past offered two options for the payback term of the loan. First is a 15-year amortization with a fixed interest rate for the entire 15-year period.  The second is a 15-year term with a variable rate which adjusts after seven years. There are advantages to both methods, depending on the needs of the company.  PIDA now offers a third alternative, which offers either a fixed or variable interest rate along with a 20-year amortization period.  The variable rate loan resets after five years.  

Commenting on these additions to the PIDA Financing Matrix, EGC Business Development Officer Greg Daigle stated “we believe this increase in lending amount for machinery and equipment lets us better service our base here in Westmoreland County.  When coupled with the attractive interest rates we become much more of a one-stop shop for them.” He added that “the new 20-year amortization program offers our Westmoreland County companies the ability to free up more of their valuable cash to grow their business, and that can, in turn, stimulate more growth for them”.

For more information on these new enhancements or any of the Business Financing Programs, please contact Greg directly at (724) 830-3604 or [email protected].

Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation

Industrial Development Corporation

Site Work Begins at Former Jeannette Glass Site
After sitting dormant for over three decades, site work will begin at the end of May at the former Jeanette Glass Site. 

The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation (WCIDC) gained ownership of the blighted property in August 2016. Since that time, the WCIDC secured the property and had it assessed for environmental hazards.  Now the site is ready for demolition and environmental remediation. This phase of the project is expected to take six months and will eliminate the significant health and safety risk the site currently presents to the nearby residents. In April, the WCIDC was awarded $960,300 in Industrial Site Reuse Program (ISRP) grant funding which will be used to support these cleanup activities. 

The WCIDC will continue with redevelopment work over the next two years, preparing the 13.2-acre site for reuse. Overall the project will have a catalytic impact on the downtown area and City of Jeannette’s revitalization process. 

Outline of the 13.2-acre parcel in the City of Jeannette
At the end of May, demolition work will begin at the former Jeannette Glass Site. Over the next two years, the WCIDC will work on preparing the site for reuse. 

New Jobs Coming to South Greensburg Commons

Standard Envelope is making the move from Unity Township to South Greensburg Commons, and they are bringing with them new job possibilities. Since signing a lease with the WCIDC for a 68,653-square-foot-sapce, the company has been working to retrofit the warehouse area. This spring the new space will allow the company to manufacturer envelopes on site instead of importing the product from Dubai. With new manufacturing will come new job openings. The company hopes to grow from six employees to 75 once the space is operational. 

A company who has already seen great success at South Greensburg Commons is Asset Genie Incorporated (AGI). AGI first moved to South Greensburg in 2006, leasing approximately 35,000-square-feet of space and averaging 15-20 employees. Today the company, who is a global leader in LCD enhancements, notebook parts & repairs, and reverse logistics, occupies 88,000 square feet, has 146 employees and recently signed a 3-year lease extension with the WCIDC.

Company Spotlight

With its expansive area, access to major transportation arteries, comprehensive industrial park system and strong work ethic, Westmoreland County has the business climate to assure success.  That's why so many companies have grown strong right here. WCIDC is highlighting those stories in our Company Spotlight.

This time our spotlight landed on Westinghouse Plasma Corporation. The company recently moved their headquarters to Westmoreland Technology Park I and their plasma torch technology will be creating a lot of heat at the park. Find out how people in India to scientists at NASA have used this unique technology. 

Cleaveland/Price Inc. Recognized by OSHA with Prestigious Award

In our last newsletter, we told you how Cleaveland/Price Inc. distinguishes itself among manufacturers in Westmoreland County. Now we are proud to congratulate Cleaveland/Price on distinguishing itself again and this time on a national level. Read more.

Reimagining Our Westmoreland Logo

Planning Division

Date Set for Priority Issues Workshop

Reimagining Our Westmoreland has finished its first major phase of public engagement. The goal here was to engage with 1% of the county's population. Through workshops, surveys, focus groups and key person interviews, over 3,800 residents and business owners identified the major issues facing the county. Three key issues were identified; transportation and the need for more public transit, economic development and job creation, and demographic issues like aging, population decline and inclusion/diversity. The next step in the process is an intensive Priority Issues workshop. The workshop is open to the public and will be held from 6 -8 p.m. on May 31 at Westmoreland Community College's Science Hall

The Planning Division would also like to acknowledge the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland and the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce for partnering with the department on this important county-wide endeavor and acknowledge the FirstEnergy Foundation and the PA Department of Community & Economic Development for their financial contributions. 

Planning Division Signs Contract with City of Jeannette

The City of Jeannette has accepted a proposal from the Planning Division's Technical Resources and Municipal Services Program to staff their planning commission. This is a new effort for the Planning Division, with the goal of providing intensive planning services in support of the City's new comprehensive plan. Planners will coordinate the activities of the planning commission and offer technical assistance to support implementation in the areas of zoning, blight, downtown revitalization and improvement in the City's corridors and gateways. These services are offered at a cost of $5,000 per year.

Get Involved with TIP

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a four-year, fiscally constrained, program that funds transportation projects throughout the county. A wide variety of projects can be programmed through the TIP including bridge replacement/rehabilitation, safety projects, congestion management, signal upgrades, pavement preservation, surface reconstruction, and bike/pedestrian projects. The TIP is updated every two years using public and stakeholder input in determining top priority projects. A Westmoreland County Public Participation Panel was formed to ensure the voices of the county’s residents and businesses are heard. The panel will hold its first meeting on May 22 at 5 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Rooms at the Westmoreland County Courthouse. The public is welcome to attend. You can view current projects and their status on PennDot’s website. For more information regarding the county’s transportation program or to provide comments regarding transportation priorities, please contact Daniel Carpenter at (724) 830-3768 or [email protected].

Loyalhanna Creek Road
Attend Westmoreland County's Public Participation Panel Meeting on May 22 and learn more about the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland

Redevelopment Authority

RACW Receives Funding to Support Various County Projects

In April, the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland (RACW) was awarded a $175,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund to rehabilitate single-family homes for low-income families in Westmoreland County. Focusing on veterans, people with disabilities the goal is to reduce homelessness and support integrated housing opportunities for some of the most vulnerable.

About $120,000 of the grant will be used on renovations to blighted properties owned by the Westmoreland County Land Bank. Improvements will include bringing the homes up to code and make they are energy efficient, so new homeowners can afford utilities. 

The remaining grant funds will be used to install wheelchair ramps and stair lifts in homes for low-income, permanently disabled residents whose annual income does not exceed $35,600. Applications for this program will be accepted beginning June 1. A newly formed advisory board that includes representatives from the Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will review the applications.

The RACW has also awarded $500,000 in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding for redevelopment activities of the Derry Business Park Redevelopment. The funding will assist in the creation of a pad-ready site for this area to attract town-friendly, light industrial businesses that will offer quality job opportunities to the area. 

To learn more, visit the Authority’s website at: www.westmorelandredevelopment.com.

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