By Debra Millman, President of Greater Berks Development Fund
The Greater Reading Keystone Enterprise Zone was approved by Gov. Tom Wolf in May 2021. The application for the designation was prepared and submitted by the Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF), an affiliate of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, with the assistance of the Albright College Center for Local Government and the Berks County Industrial Development Authority.
A Keystone Enterprise Zone designation addresses deteriorated, distressed and blighted industrial and manufacturing areas. The designation and subsequent Five-Year Strategy should improve standards of living through revitalization, attraction of new business and creating job opportunities.
Participating municipalities in the Greater Reading Keystone Enterprise Zone are Bern Township, Cumru Township, Muhlenberg Township, Ontelaunee Township and the City of Reading. Certain industrial and commercially zoned properties with each municipality are designated as “Enterprise Zone,” which will last until May 31, 2026.
This designation provides the added benefit of priority consideration under several Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) programs including the Keystone Communities program. The designation also qualifies as a “distressed area” under the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP).
Additional benefits to designation as a Keystone Enterprise Zone include:
- Eligible businesses located within the zone receive priority consideration when bidding on state government contracts. This benefit continues for five years after the zone exits the program.
- Eligible businesses located within the zone receive priority consideration when applying for financial assistance to clean up contaminated sites under Act II. This benefit is active up to five years after the zone has exited the program.
- Eligible businesses receive priority consideration for any resource administered by the commonwealth that would assist in leveraging imminent business investment and job creation in an Enterprise Zone.
- Priority consideration for a state liquor license.
The Greater Reading Keystone Enterprise Zone is an important tool for approved municipalities to utilize in the redevelopment and revitalization of their communities. For more information contact Debra Millman, President of Greater Berks Development Fund at [email protected].