Commission wraps up year-end items

Officials of the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission [NCPRPDC] are looking forward to the new year as applications are being looked at by state government for PREP [Partnership for Regional and Economic Performance] funding.During Wednesday's board meeting, the commission's executive director, Eric Bridges, reported that NCPRPDC has complied with the Department of Community and Economic Development's [DCED] requests for a single application for approved funding under PREP."North Central is applying on behalf of the six-county EDCs [Economic Development Corporations] at no cost with the Clarion SBDC [Small Business Development Center] and Northwest [Pennsylvania] IRC [Industrial Resource Center] submitting their portion independently," Bridges said. "DCED plans still call for all PREP contracts to be finalized before the end of the calendar year."PREP partners reportedly have until June 30, 2012 to expend their funds.The PREP proposal was submitted and accepted in October. A single application for assistance was submitted Nov. 23 on behalf of North Central and six previously LEDA [Local Economic Development Agencies]-funded county agencies. This is the mechanism to request funds approved through the PREP proposal.Commission officials have not been asked for any additional information as the DCED legal department continues to work on language within the contracts. DCED officials have informed commission members that they are confident all PREP partners will be under contract by the end of the calendar year.State officials have created a group designed to provide recommendations and input regarding best practices for policies and strategies to promote coordination of economic priorities, an initiative that Bridges said will trickle down to the commission."Governor [Tom] Corbett recently created the Interagency Coordination Advisory Group for Economic Development, also known as the 'Economic Advisory Group,'" Bridges said. "The group will be chaired by the secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, and will consist of representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Environmental Protection, Labor and Industry, Transportation, Revenue, and Conservation and Natural Resources."In addition, the director of Corbett's "Action Team," the director of the governor's "Policy Office," and Corbett's chief of staff, or their designees, will serve as members of the group.