KRC study on economic development aid distribution.
An article in the Morning Call yesterday discussed the disparity between development aid to outlying areas and the urban core in the Lehigh Valley. The article focuses on the recent study released by the Keystone Research Center which focused on the distribution of funds between 2003 and 2008 provided by various economic development programs in Pennsylvania.
On a per-capita basis, for every $1 in aid received by outlying townships in the Lehigh Valley, older urbanized areas received just 56 cents, the report said. In Erie, the top-ranked region, older urbanized areas received $1.38 on the dollar.
The significance here–as evidenced by many of the people quoted in the article– is that the areas within the Valley that are most in need of funds for redevelopment, are receiving the fewest dollars. Meanwhile, the additional aid given to the outlying areas perpetuates the problems that created the disparity in the first place. As those areas develop, there are all sorts of infrastructure costs and environmental costs that go into keeping up with that development. Water and wastewater systems, new roads, and land consumption are just some of these issues.
The study did find, however, that Pennsylvania, outside the Lehigh Valley, has done a much better job of directing aid money to the areas most in need.
As a whole, Pennsylvania fared better in the study. Urban areas received $1.25 for every dollar directed to outer areas statewide, an improvement over the results of a study of the same programs between 1998-2003, which was cited in a Brookings Institution report.
It is important to add that although they do not dismiss the study, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation made clear that there are several other economic development programs– which do a better job of targeting funds to the urban core– that the study does not account for.
Check out the full study on the Keystone Research Center’s website and let us know your thoughts!