Reading’s 9th Street Corridor selected to participate in community revitalization initiative

Ten Pennsylvania communities were officially welcomed as Blueprint Communities on Monday April 29, beginning a unique 18-month local revitalization program. The ceremony was attended by 150 people including public officials, and representatives of the ten communities and financial institution partners.

Blueprint Communities, a program of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, is a place-based revitalization initiative. This year, the program is being administered by Pennsylvania Downtown Center in the Commonwealth. The initiative creates momentum for revitalizing communities and neighborhoods by building strong local leadership, developing sound regional planning skills, and encouraging coordinated investments in targeted communities by public and private funders.

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Community teams will create a strategy for comprehensive revitalization that improves the quality of life for residents and focuses on building community assets, engaging residents, improving local housing and attracting new businesses and jobs.

The ten selected communities – Allentown, Berwick, Carbondale, Easton (South Side), Harrisburg (Allison Hill), Panther Valley Communities (Coaldale Lansford, Nesquehoning, Summit Hill), Philadelphia (Juniata Neighborhood), Reading (9th Street Corridor), Sunbury (Downtown), and White Haven – were chosen based on community need, strong local leadership, existing capacity, and readiness to participate in the initiative.

Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, a 2005 Blueprint Communities alumnus, led the busy day with a fireside chat. He shared his experience as a member of the McKeesport Blueprint Team and the opportunity local leaders on the Blueprint teams have to enhance their communities. During this morning session, the 2024 cohort asked Davis a range of questions including lessons learned from the program and how to leverage state resources.

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Davis provided encouragement to the teams, “As a former Blueprint Communities team member, I gained valuable experience and insights — all of which help inform my work now as Lieutenant Governor. Both Governor Shapiro and I have worked and served in local government, and we know that investing in our communities and revitalizing our neighborhoods is a smart economic development strategy. We look forward to partnering with each community along the way.”

The afternoon ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda was a celebration of the newly selected Blueprint Communities, and was attended by government officials, local dignitaries and community development stakeholders. Speakers included: Luke Bernstein, President and CEO, The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PA Chamber); Rick Siger, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development; Julie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, PDC; and FHLBank leaders including Winthrop Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer, John Bendel, Senior Director of Community Investment, and Fred Bañuelos, Community Investment Business Development Manager.

“We are thrilled to welcome these ten communities into the Blueprint Communities initiative,” said Watson. “Our goal is to help equip them with the tools necessary to enhance their leadership skills and the development capacity to achieve their long-term community vision.”

“On behalf of employers statewide, we are thrilled to help welcome these ten communities into the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh’s Blueprint Communities initiative,” said Bernstein. “Collaboration is absolutely essential in driving sustainable economic growth and nurturing strong, resilient communities across our Commonwealth. This is a critical initiative for Pennsylvania, and the PA Chamber is proud to help kick off this important community revitalization effort.”

“When our communities grow and thrive, Pennsylvania thrives, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh’s Blueprint Communities initiative is a key partner in the work the Commonwealth is doing to make that happen,” said Secretary Rick Siger, Department of Community and Economic Development. “The Shapiro-Davis Administration is excited for the ten communities which will benefit from this initiative, and we look forward to helping them succeed as they apply the knowledge and strategies they’ve gained to advance economic opportunity and quality of life for their residents.”

Community teams are comprised of local government and organizational leaders, volunteers and representatives from FHLBank member institutions, including Community First Fund, Customers Bank, Embassy Bank for the Lehigh Valley, ESSA Bank and Trust, Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank, First Keystone Community Bank, Fulton Bank N.A, Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank, Peoples Security Bank and Trust, and S&T Bank.

“The Blueprint Communities teams are representative of passionate and committed individuals who are well-positioned to make lasting effects in the towns and cities they serve,” said Fitzpatrick of PDC. “It is our intent to engage these communities with the necessary tools and support to create meaningful transformational impacts. We are grateful to be a part of their journey and are looking forward to the future success of these Pennsylvania downtowns and neighborhoods.”

The Blueprint Communities initiative has supported the development of local leadership, collaboration across sectors and holistic planning in 28 communities in Pennsylvania, and 64 communities across FHLBank’s three-state district of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia since 2005.

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