Officials gathered at city hall Friday morning to announce a community revitalization effort that will see $3.3 million in investments made in Aliquippa over the next six years.
Jared Stonesifer @Stonesifer412
ALIQUIPPA — Mayor Dwan Walker firmly believes in leaving a place better than you found it.
Walker, along with city council members and local and state officials, are on their way to achieving that goal in Aliquippa. For Walker, who spoke through tears Friday morning at a press conference, the future couldn’t be brighter.
Officials gathered at city hall Friday morning to announce a community revitalization effort that will see $3.3 million in investments made in Aliquippa over the next six years. That money will mostly come from BNY Mellon, which will contribute $500,000 a year through 2023 to the Aliquippa Economic Development Corporation.
For its efforts, BNY Mellon will receive $400,000 in annual tax credits because of its commitment to Aliquippa.
In addition, the city received a $365,000 grant from the state that will go toward acquiring and demolishing blighted properties.
So what does that investment mean to the city?
During the first year of the program, officials expect to acquire and demolish 18 blighted homes to create sites for potential housing or other developments. It will also include the demolition of three existing commercial buildings on the eastern end of Franklin Avenue near the entrance to the Aliquippa Industrial Park.
The program isn’t solely about removing blight, however. Aliquippa officials will develop a program with the Salvation Army to provide food bank and emergency food assistance programs to meet the needs of 500 low-income residents.
Additionally, a digital media lab will be created inside the B.F. Jones Memorial Library to provide educational and training services to 150 young adults. The money will also be used to develop a partnership with Job Training for Beaver County to create a Targeted Job Success Workshop to prepare 100 adults for employment.
Speaking passionately at the press conference, Walker said Friday’s announcement was the culmination of more than a year of hard work, dedication and collaboration between Aliquippa and local and state officials.
He specifically thanked Jim Palmer, president of the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development, and state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-16, Ambridge, for being critical players in the project and in helping to craft the program and to apply for state grants.
The entire project announced Friday is supported through the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Neighborhood Partnership and Keystone Communities initiatives.
Despite his overwhelming emotions of gratitude and thanks, Walker made sure to be clear about what the project means for his city.
“This is not a resurrection project,” he said. “This is a renaissance project. Calling it a resurrection means we were dead.”
While the first year of the program calls for the acquisition and demolition of 18 properties, Walker said he expects that number to balloon to more than 40 properties over the next three years.
Dennis Davin, secretary of the state DCED, attended the press conference and said the “far-reaching investment” announced Friday could help transform Aliquippa in the coming years.
“When we work together to give Pennsylvania’s communities the tools they need to rebound from adversity and thrive, we are building a bright future that unites our families, neighborhoods and businesses,” he said.
Davin also said Gov. Tom Wolf has a “deeply rooted belief in the great promise of communities like Aliquippa.”
“I can assure you that we’re committed to the residents of this city,” he said.
Walker, who said he loves “every brick, every street, every inch” of Aliquippa, also made it clear that his city won’t be left behind when it comes to the future of Beaver County.
“Aliquippa is a factor in the future of Beaver County,” he said. “Our best days are ahead of us.”