Somerset Inc. receives $50K to give Uptown Somerset a facelift

February 26, 2019

Somerset Inc.’s executive director expects a state grant to trigger a $150,000 investment in Uptown Somerset. Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday that Somerset Inc., a nonprofit community revitalization program, will receive a $50,000 facade improvement grant from the Keystone Communities program. A total of $5.5 million was awarded statewide. The program is administered through the state Department of Community & Economic Development.

“This administration is committed to making our communities better places to live and do business,” Wolf said in a press release.

“From restoring community cornerstones to beautifying downtowns to helping people with disabilities make crucial accessibility improvements to their homes, these projects will have profound impacts for local residents and business owners.”

Somerset Inc. Executive Director Regina Coughenour said that while the grant requires a 50 percent match, many of the business owners interested in the program were planning to double the match amount.

“In total $100,000 is the amount our business owners are planning to match that $50,000 (with),” she said. “That is how much investment we hope to see as a result of this grant.”

She said 10 to 12 business owners were interested in the program. She declined to name them Monday because she had not had time to see if they were still interested in the program. Coughenour said many business owners included letters about their facelift plans. She said real estate prices have been stagnant, and it is important to encourage owners to invest in their businesses.

“We think this is vitally important to preserving our historic buildings,” she said.

Since January 2015, the Wolf administration has approved more than $22 million through the Keystone Communities program to fund 131 projects statewide, including facade grants for businesses, accessible housing projects and public infrastructure improvements.

“In order for our economy to thrive, we need to help build strong communities,” DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said in the release. “Strong communities attract businesses that create jobs, and strong business environments attract new residents to the area and grow the local economy. That’s why these projects are so vital to the areas in which they’re located.”