Local Legislators Host Public Hearing on Pros and Cons of Keystone Opportunity Zones

POTTSVILLE – On Friday, Senator David G. Argall (R-29), Representative Jerry Knowles (R-124), Representative Mike Tobash (R-125) and Ed Kleha from Representative Neal Goodman’s (D-123) office held a public hearing to evaluate the successes and failures of Pennsylvania’s Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZs) in the region. The hearings featured a wide-range of speakers with firsthand experience on the KOZs, tax-free zones created in the 1990s in order to spur job growth and fight blight in Pennsylvania.

“The insight each speaker shared was highly valuable to us,” said Senator Argall. “This was a good opportunity for us to take a step back and evaluate all angles of the legislation. I am pleased to see some real progress, especially the fact that Keystone Opportunity Zones are responsible for 3,000 new jobs in Schuylkill County. In tough economic times, we need to look at ways to encourage job growth in our region. Not only are jobs being created, but several of our local school districts and our county and local governments are now reaping the rewards with an influx of millions of dollars in new tax revenue on formerly abandoned sites to alleviate the stress on local homeowners.”

Beginning this year, Schuylkill County school districts will receive an additional $3 million each and every year, now that the KOZs are beginning to expire across the state;

As one example, the Tamaqua Area School district will receive an additional $340,000 on formerly tax-free properties in 2011; Townships, Boroughs, and the City of Pottsville will receive $400,000, and the county government will receive an additional $900,000 from the former tax-free zones. Additional funding will be made available in future years as more recent KOZs expire.

The hearing, held in Pottsville City Hall on Friday at 10:00am, featured numerous speakers to share their experiences with Pennsylvania’s Keystone Opportunity Zones, including:

  • Mark J. Scarbinsky, County Administrator, Schuylkill County
  • Amy Burkhart, Executive Director, Pottsville Area Development Corporation (PADCO)
  • Linda Yulanavage, Executive Director, Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Joseph Pilla, President, ETA Benefits Group
  • Darrell Kohler, President, West Side Wood Products, Inc.
  • Frank J. Zukas, President, Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO)

The hearing will be made available online at www.SenatorArgall.com.

Contact: Jon Hopcraft
(717) 787-2637
(570) 773-0891

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