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Impact Harrisburg aims to open up grant process next week

Impact Harrisburg, a nonprofit approved by Commonwealth Court in late 2014 as part of Harrisburg’s recovery plan, expects to launch by the end of next week a grant program designed to spur public and private investment in the city.

The nonprofit’s board, which met today to discuss program guidelines and flesh out a timeline for the first round of grant making, has a little more than $12 million in funds that it plans to disperse in the coming years.

It has about $6 million for city infrastructure projects — funds available only to the city of Harrisburg and Capital Region Water — and about the same amount for economic development grants that are open to for-profit and nonprofit entities that have “shovel-ready” projects in the city.

The goal is for the grants to leverage other financing opportunities for projects that could help grow the city’s tax base or create permanent jobs in the city, or simply improve livability and public safety.

The board did not finalize application guidelines today, though that should be done over the next week, according to Sheila Dow Ford, the organization’s executive director.

A website for the organization could be finalized by April 12 with the application expected to appear online by April 15, she said. 

The board, which has come under scrutiny by regional media that contends Impact Harrisburg should be subject to the state’s Sunshine Act and advertise public meetings, has scheduled public information meetings April 18-20 to discuss the grant process.

Those public meetings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Hamilton Health Center, the Latino Hispanic American Community Center and the Heinz-Menaker Senior Center.

The deadline for the infrastructure applications will be May 15, while the economic development submissions will be due June 15, Ford said. 

A pre-application workshop for the economic development applications will be held May 16 at the Heinz-Menaker Senior Center.

The board has not yet set a target for how much money it will release in the first round of applications. That will depend on interest, officials said.

A timeline for future funding rounds has not been established, though it’s possible a second round could occur this year.

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