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Commissioners Announce Priority Projects

Stroudsburg – The Monroe County Commissioners announced today that Northampton Community College’s Monroe Campus, Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport, the Pocono Township/Brodhead Creek Regional Authority, will be the first applications submitted for Monroe County’s Local Share Account of gaming revenue generated by Mt. Airy Casino Resort.

The commissioners spent more than a year consulting with economic development leaders about priorities for the initial funding round. They also met with our 10 state legislators to gauge support for the established priority projects. The laborious process led them to submit project applications on behalf of NCC’s planned expansion of its Monroe County Campus, the PMAA’s runway expansion project and the Pocono Township/Brodhead Regional Authority sewer project.

“These projects were selected based on several criteria. We asked PMEDCto determine which projects are prepared to commence immediately and asked that consideration be given to projects that have funding commitments in place from other state and federal sources. Our criteria for selection also included consideration for projects that enhance and support other county projects and generate favorable and lasting economic impact. This is just the beginning of how Mt. Airy will benefit Monroe County beyond it’s status as a magnet for tourism,” stated Commissioners Chairperson Suzanne McCool.

Other projects on the Priority List include:
• Telecommunications Infrastructure
• Pocono Mountains Corporate Center East, Phase A Section II and Phase B
• Tobyhanna Township Infrastructure
• Redevelopment of the Laird Technologies building
• Mount Pocono Municipal Authority Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrades
• West End Site Acquisition
• University Research and Technology Park
• Coolbaugh Township Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrades
• Commerce Court Extension
• Rail Authority Needs/Freight and Passenger
• International Boiler Works Redevelopment
• Mount Pocono Regional Wastewater Resources
• Flex Building at Pocono Mountains Corporate Center East

Applications can be submitted from June 1 and through August 31, 2008. The Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation will accept and collect submissions on the commissioners’ behalf.

“DCED has determined three types of projects that are eligible for these funds,” says PMEDC Executive Director Chuck Leonard. “Public interest projects, community improvement projects, and economic development projects. We will guide applicants through the single application process and submit those applications to the commissioners for their review.”

Though the DCED expects to announce funding selections in November, Leonard cautions that the unpredictable nature of gaming receipts may affect both the timeline and the amounts of the projects that are selected.

The Local Share Account, established as part of the PA Racehorse Development and Gaming Act, designates that two percent of Mt. Airy’s gross terminal revenues be used “to support and enhance community and economic well-being and mitigate the impact of gaming and related activities.”

However, Monroe County may not realize the full benefit of Mt. Airy’s revenues for quite some time. Because the county falls below population thresholds established by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, the two percent Local Share is allocated to two equal funds: one to fund projects in Monroe County and the other to fund projects in contiguous counties, including Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northampton, Pike, and Wayne.

“The Board of Commissioners is still frustrated by the difficulties related to losing half of our share to regional neighbors and how that constrains the number of projects that will benefit within Monroe County. We are the only local host of a gaming facility that must share the revenues with surrounding counties. That just doesn’t seem fair when we have so many needs related to economic development and infrastructure.”

The Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation is a non-profit economic development corporation dedicated to creating jobs for Monroe County residents, expanding the county’s tax base and attracting new investment with the direct support of the Monroe County Commissioners.

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