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Blair projects get tax-credit funding

Fairview Cemetery improvements among plans receiving money

The state Department of Community and Economic Development has granted a total of $917,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program funding, based on tax credits, to benefit four Blair County projects.

The funding will help restore deteriorating features at Fairview Cemetery, make improvements at the Nehemiah Project’s Wright Place for Kids and in the surrounding neighborhood, renovate the former Vipond building downtown for Curry Realty and renovate the former Gilden Barton Funeral Home for VIP Financial Matters.

The NAP program, which is designed to help struggling neighborhoods, provides credits against state tax liability that recipient organizations can use to reduce their own tax liability or sell for near face value to businesses that can use the credits.

The NAP program has five subcategories: including regular NAP, which is providing the funding for the Fairview Cemetery project; Special Program Priorities, which is providing funding for the Nehemiah Project work; and the Enterprise Tax Credit Program, which is providing funding for the Curry Realty and VIP Financial Matters projects.

With regular NAP and SPP, nonprofits and neighborhood organizations solicit contributions from businesses to support projects. Businesses receive tax credits valued at 55 percent of their contributions to NAP projects and tax credits valued at 75 percent of their contributions for SPP projects, according to a fact sheet.

With EZP, businesses receive tax credits valued at 25 percent of the money invested in projects, up to a maximum of $500,000.

The Altoona Fairview Cemetery Association is receiving $27,500 to improve the run-down cemetery’s aesthetics and to make it safer for visitors, including walkers and joggers.

The largest component of the project involves rehabilitation of the wrought iron fencing around the property, including replacement of bent or otherwise ruined sections, correction of botched repairs and righting of reusable toppled sections.

The money will also pay for replacement of two blocks of sidewalk, repairs to the gate pillars and removal of dead trees, many of which are hazardous to visitors at the cemetery, which is in Lower Fairview, behind UPMC Altoona.

The Nehemiah Project will receive $157,000 to re-roof The Wright Place for Kids at the former Wright Elementary School on 11th Avenue in Lower Fairview, to renovate space in the building for day care, to fund a summer reading camp for 50 participants, to provide food for 30 students over 32 school-year weekends through the Mountain Lion BackPack Program, to raze a blighted building in the neighborhood to prepare for construction of new housing, to upgrade the Hope Community Playground in the neighborhood and to help provide 200 families with groceries and other household items and 2,500 meals for poor people through The Father’s House program and The Father’s Table program.

Curry Realty will receive $500,000 toward its $3.3 million effort to create a consolidated headquarters for its Curry Supply, Curry Rail and Curry Designs, along with space to rent to business tenants — an effort that will enable the company to participate in the “renaissance” of downtown, according to DCED material.

“This strategic investment is necessitated in order to assure that moving forward, the family of Curry businesses are able to attract top talent as they grow their businesses,” according to DCED.

The company will relocate about 30 IT, sales, finance and other support employees to the building, which will also become the workplace for 10 employees filling new jobs, according to DCED.

VIP will receive $233,000 for its renovation of the 6,000-square-foot, three-story, 19th century brick Victorian former funeral home, which is in a low-to-moderate-income neighborhood.

The renovation will create class-A commercial office space for the company, which is owned by Jeff Fleming, according to DCED. The renovations will include construction of a stair tower, an elevator and an entrance canopy. It will enable creation of 10 new jobs.

The funding allocations are part of the release of $26.5 million in tax credits for 197 community revitalization projects statewide, according to DCED.

The program is funded with $18 million a year in tax-credits, according to DCED.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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