Understanding the Keystone Communities Designation Program
The Keystone Communities program is part of a state-wide initiative established to assist communities in their revitalization efforts. The program provides access to funding, technical assistance, and training. In order to participate in the program, communities like Ephrata must meet certain eligibility criteria and apply for the program. The acceptance into this program ensures:
- Access to funding opportunities for both planning and implementation, enabling communities to kick-start their revitalization projects,
- Technical assistance and training programs to equip community leaders and stakeholders with the knowledge and skills necessary for successful downtown revitalization; and,
- Access to state and federal resources, opening up even more possibilities for community development.
The Keystone Communities initiative is focused on helping traditional downtowns be more attractive places to live, work, and shop. Through the program, Mainspring-led activities that benefit the Ephrata Borough will receive priority status for various DCED programs as well as free consulting from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.
“The Shapiro Administration is excited to designate Ephrata as a Keystone Communities Main Street,” said Deputy Secretary Vilello. “This designation will foster growth for the whole community — businesses will receive support and residents will experience the benefits of a thriving downtown.”
Ephrata joins a network of other communities across the Commonwealth who have used the Main Street Model for revitalization since the 1980’s. Places like West Chester, Easton, Lewisburg, Quakertown, and Phoenixville. These communities have benefitted from this tried-and-true process, core community revitalization that focuses on a comprehensive approach to economic development through historic preservation – one that benefits local residents, visitors, and tourists alike.
The Main Street Model is an ideal way to support communities of any size to encourage sustainable economic development and improve the quality of life in the communities where it is implemented.
The Ephrata corridor, nestled in the picturesque Lancaster County, holds great potential for revitalization. Currently, the downtown area faces challenges, however, Mainspring has set ambitious goals to transform it into a vibrant, livable, and environmentally sustainable downtown that attracts businesses, residents, and visitors. The Keystone Communities program perfectly complements and supports these objectives, and, by providing financial and technical assistance, the program ensures that the revitalization efforts can gain momentum and overcome the hurdles impeding progress toward a remarkable transformation.
The Impact of the Keystone Communities Program on Ephrata
The Keystone Communities Program will have a significant impact on the Ephrata corridor. With access to funding, Mainspring can implement projects and initiatives that create new economic opportunities, enhance sustainability, and elevate the quality of life for residents and visitors.
Potential projects that can be undertaken with the help of the program include the redevelopment of vacant or underutilized buildings, streetscape enhancements, and the creation of inviting public spaces. These initiatives directly address the recognized needs of the community and contribute to the formation of a vibrant, walkable downtown.
Revitalizing a community is not just about improving infrastructure or boosting the economy; it is about rekindling a sense of pride and creating a space where residents can thrive, while allowing them to be more invested in the success of the revitalization efforts.
The Keystone Communities Program offers resources and guidance, but successful revitalization efforts also require active engagement from the community. Engaging community members through various means, such as community forums, public meetings, and social media platforms, is crucial to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met. Involvement can take various forms, from grassroots initiatives to volunteering for specific projects.
By nurturing a community-driven approach, Ephrata can ensure that the revitalization aligns with the desires and values of its residents, strengthening the bonds within the community.
The Keystone Communities program provides a unique opportunity for Ephrata to realize the goals of achieving a vibrant, walkable downtown that enhances sustainability, livability, and economic vitality by equipping Ephrata with the resources needed to transform its downtown and create a thriving community hub.