The People’s Emergency Center received a $670,000 grant from Wells Fargo Bank that helps the non-profit continue its redevelopment and community improvement initiatives over the next several years.
“This will support our work,” said David Fryman, chairman of PEC’s board, as he ticked off a list of the group’s initiatives: Housing, education, job training, job creation and community revitalization.
Bank officials met with PEC officials on Tuesday, March 27 at the non-profit’s facility at 38th Street and Lancaster Avenue to turn over a ceremonial check.
The bank and the non-profit have been partners for more than 25 years. Over that period, Wells Fargo has given $1.6 million to the organization and helped fund 21 initiatives. Those funds have been leveraged into more a $60 million investment in the community.
“Community involvement is far more than writing a check,” said Vincent Liuzzi, regional president of Wells Fargo. “We are here for the long-term to help this company to be successful.”
Among PEC’s top priorities over the next five years is redeveloping Lancaster Avenue from 37th Street to 44th Street.
The avenue is the anchor of the area under PEC’s umbrella, which stretches from Market Street to Wallace Street then runs northwest along Lancaster Street to 44th Street. It includes West Powelton Village, Saunders Park, Powelton and Belmont.
“The commercial corridor really defines the community,” said Farah Jaminez, PEC president and CEO, noting that Lancaster Avenue is home to some thriving businesses, but also dotted with vacant and crumbling storefronts.
PEC recently kicked off a redevelopment initiative and is soliciting neighborhood opinion as it works to draw up a formal plan as it works to revitalize the area. Plans include developing neighborhood gateways at 38th Street, and new facades on several neighborhood restaurants and businesses.
“We’re doing what we can to reclaim those places into something positive,” said Jaminez.
A door-to-door survey has been completed and several public meetings are planned to make sure residents have a voice in the process.
According to Lisa Worden, southeastern director of the Department of Community and Economic Development, funding for DCED has risen from $8 million to $18 million: a fact that bodes well for development plans across the state.
“Gov. Corbett hopes to hold it at that,” she said.