- COMMUNITY LINKS
With a state budget possibly being in place by July 1, officials at the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission (NCPRPDC) are preparing for new times.
"Discussions are ongoing and the process as it's defined now, about two or three weeks ago, the DCED [state Department of Community and Economic Development] came out with what they're calling 'guidelines,' and they also convened a forum in Harrisburg comprised of representatives from each of those core providers (local development districts, industrial resource centers, small business development centers and local economic development corporations)," said Eric Bridges, NCPRPDC executive director. "The purpose of that discussion was for the state (officials) to have an opportunity to talk with partners in this process, to have dialogue and interaction, and I was fortunate to be invited, I represented one of two local development districts in those discussions.
"For the most part, even though these guidelines are only two or three weeks old, our process really started back in late March, not too far after the governor's proposed budget came out."
According to Bridges, most of what is included in the proposed guidelines are quite practical and make sense.
"They are general parameters that allow us to develop a system for our region, and I give [these officials] a lot of credit for doing this," Bridges said, "and we're happy when people ask us what works for us.
"The process metrics will be another key component moving on-- basically how well a partnership is performing to our expectations."
The application process will reportedly be released within 90 days of the budget's adoption.
"It could be sooner, but within those 90 days-- and we're under the assumption that a budget will be passed and in place by July 1," Bridges said. "Within that first quarter, we'll know the application process [for state monies]. There was a concern from some of the partners over that delay. We really don't know what our resources are going to be but we need to make decisions based on the presumption that they will be in place. Fortunately, the administration and our federal partners have been willing to work with us to either make room in our existing contracts to appropriately extend or expedite some of our contracts that are in the loop so that we are able to maintain a reasonable degree of service."