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Pilot program moves forward

LANCASTER, PA – State Sen. Lloyd K. Smucker (R-13) joined local elected officials and business leaders at Southern Market Center Monday to praise the decision by the Department of Community and Economic Development to award one of its first designations in the CRIZ program to the City of Lancaster.

The City Reinvestment and Improvement Zone (CRIZ), authored by Sen. Smucker and signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett this summer, allows approved third class cities with populations greater than 30,000 to create investment zones where vacant, blighted or abandoned properties can be developed for commercial use.

“Now that the application to award Lancaster a spot in the program has been approved, the Authority can move forward with the important work of reviewing proposals and examining prospective projects,” Sen. Smucker said. “This program has the potential to uncap millions in new investment.”

Besides providing a vehicle to revitalize Lancaster’s underutilized properties, the CRIZ program will create economic opportunities for businesses and job opportunities for local residents, Sen. Smucker said.

“Today’s announcement marks the culmination of months and years of work,” he said. “I have been working closely with Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray and the newly appointed members of the CRIZ Authority to ensure everyone is ready to move forward immediately.”

Like the other third-class cities across the state that had submitted an application to DCED, Lancaster organized a CRIZ Authority in September and named 11 people to its board.

The DCED announced Monday that Lancaster and Bethlehem were awarded the first two slots in the program. In coming years, other third-class cities will compete for inclusion into the program, with a new one added every year. The DCED evaluates the applications and awards positions in the program based on a set of guidelines that were released earlier this year.

With Lancaster’s inclusion into the program, CRIZ Authority members can begin the process of issuing bonds for construction and rehabilitation of buildings or lots. Most state taxes within the CRIZ areas—during and after construction—will be transferred to a CRIZ Fund. The Revenue Department will make annual payments from the Fund to the Authority until the bonds are retired.

Sen. Smucker said Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser, and Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Alan Walker represented the Corbett administration during the development of the program, and each department played a key role.

“Gov. Corbett was instrumental in bringing the necessary parties together to get this legislation passed and to make sure the plight of Pennsylvania’s third-class cities did not go unaddressed,” Sen. Smucker said. “Thanks to the collective hard work of everyone involved in this effort, Lancaster is now poised to serve as a state-wide model for this program.”


Matt Parido