Legislation strengthening existing law requiring state agencies to be located in a downtown unanimously passed the Senate on Monday. Sen. David Argall's Senate Bill 276 reinforces Act 32, the original Downtown Location Law which he sponsored in 2000.
Argall's legislation would require increased coordination between the Department of Community and Economic Development and organizations committed to community, downtown revitalization and historic preservation.
"We have seen this program yield considerable success in our efforts to revive our downtowns over the past decade, bringing jobs and commerce to areas that once lagged any initiative," said Argall. "This has proven to be an important economic development tool and this bill amends our existing law to improve our downtowns' job climate."
Locally, organizations look at this legislation as a win to improve downtown communities and aid in job creation and economic development.
Deena Kershner, Program Manager of Our Town Foundation in Hamburg, believes Argall's legislation streamlines the process and communication between the state and local groups.
"I think it is appropriate for DCED to coordinate with the many existing agencies and community organizations that strive to rebuild their towns," said Kershner. "More often than not, the organizations already have a working relationship with DCED officials, and they both share a common goal of rebuilding our older communities to strengthen their economic base."
Main Street Manager Mary Luscavage from Downtown Shenandoah Inc. values the amount of input the Senator's legislation would provide local groups committed to downtown revitalization.
"This will allow the organizations to have more input and bring state offices to our aging downtowns," said Luscavage. "This bill is progress that is needed to develop and preserve our Historical areas."
Since Argall's Downtown Location Law went into effect over 11 years ago, annually over 90 percent of all state government leases have been designated in downtown areas.
Senate Bill 276 now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.