Best known for its innovative art initiatives, Barrio Alegría is now recognized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for empowering the Latino community with its community development programming. Barrio helps support small businesses, aspiring entrepreneurs and an alternative currency economy in the Reading area.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has certified Barrio and a partnering company as participants in the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program, which encourages businesses to invest in projects which improve economically distressed areas.
The designation, specifically within the state’s Special Program Priorities, means the business helping fund Barrio’s community development work will receive a tax credit worth 75% of the contribution.
Barrio is already putting the special designation to work through its Growing Roots and Sprouting Shoots (GRASS) revitalization program. GRASS aims to support Berks’ Latino entrepreneurs and businesses by making $40,000 accessible in financing. GRASS encompasses microlending circles, culturally relevant financial education, business support services and a skills-trade economy known as “time banking.”
“Being a part of the state’s Special Program Priorities is an exciting development that really plants Barrio’s flag in the community development realm,” said Anthony Orozco, Barrio’s director of operations. “Our goal is to not only create access to capital, but to empower our neighbors with critical information to ensure they thrive.”
“And better yet, industry is already seeing the benefit in having Barrio as a trusted partner to strengthen our Latino workforce and businesses,” Orozco added.
Barrio joins organizations such as Berks Latino Workforce Development Corp., GoggleWorks Center for the Arts and Alvernia University in this unique state tax credit program. The full list of approved projects for the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Program can be read here.