Looking back at the remarkable economic rebirth of Erie, Pennsylvania

In January of 2015, Dennis M. Davin was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. Prior to his appointment, Secretary Davin served for more than a decade as Director of the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development (ACED).

The October 15, 2017 issue of REVITALIZATION) had an article about Gannon University‘s $2.5 million investment in Erie’s downtown revitalization. Just a few months later, more good news arrived in the form of a $30 million investment by PennDOT.

Here, Davin looks back on the recent history of Erie’s remarkable rebirth, following decades of economic decline:

On the heels of a historic investment announcement in Erie, I am once again amazed at the innovation, imagination, and legendary can-do spirit found in this city.

With more than $32 million in new state funding for projects on the Erie Bayfront and throughout the city, we are proud to collaborate with other state agencies, federal agencies, and private investors to support the great projects happening there.


This unprecedented interagency cooperative effort includes grants from PennDOT, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the Department of Agriculture, all of which will propel ongoing revitalization efforts in the city.

The most profound investment will take place at the Erie Bayfront. PennDOT, in collaboration with DCED, will provide $30 million to improve safety and traffic flow for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. This investment will enhance mobility and increase access to the city’s greatest asset: its waterfront.

This project will take visitors from the Bayfront to the downtown area, where they can enjoy restaurants, shopping, and cultural and sporting events. This investment also will create a more walkable, bikable community —a key component to Erie residents living happy.

In addition to this transportation funding, DCED had the opportunity to support two projects through the Keystone Communities Program. Designed to encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors to grow and stabilize neighborhoods, this $350,000 investment will fund critical repairs to aging housing in the East and West Bayfront neighborhoods, and façade improvements in the Historic Little Italy neighborhood.

We also announced that 19 Neighborhood Assistance Program projects will receive $1.6 million in tax credits, which will leverage $2.5 million in private contributions to nonprofit organizations.

Since 2015, the Wolf Administration has invested more than $76 million in the city of Erie. This interactive map features projects funded through Pennsylvania agencies, along with federal funding that was secured.


These significant investments only further the city’s revitalization efforts. We have recognized the great work that is happening in Erie and witnessed residents, executives, and community leaders coming together like never before.

Erie has a plan — several plans, actually. Destination Erie, Erie Refocused, and the downtown master plan all represent the common goal to move this city forward. These plans have created a voice for city of Erie, one that we’ve heard loud and clear at the state level — while also clearly prioritizing which projects will most positively impact the city and community.

Thanks to private investments from organizations like Erie Insurance, UPMC Hamot, Gannon University and Scott Enterprises, we are able to strategically partner to invest state dollars in these communities.


So where do we see these investments taking the city of Erie? To start, the Bayfront project will provide access and opportunity, creating an iconic connection between downtown Erie and the waterfront. It will make Erie a more attractive place to live, work, and play.

The investments will inevitably attract new businesses to Erie and entice current businesses to retain jobs and grow in Erie. Just recently, Disabled Veteran Solutions (DVS), a veteran-owned provider of call center services that focuses on hiring veterans and military families, moved its operations to downtown Erie. This move will create 205 new jobs, with more to come.

These community development projects’ positive impacts will extend beyond new roads and retail development. These investments will position Erie as a destination for those looking to put down roots, relocate for better career opportunities, or raise a family. Erie will offer not only fresh ideas and a renewed spirit, but also a place people can call home.

We look forward to our continued partnership with the leaders and community members in Erie to revive and transform this great city — a place where people can work smart and live happy for years to come.

Featured photo courtesy of Erie Downtown Development Corporation.

This article was originally published by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Community & Economic Development. Reprinted with permission.

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