YUDICHAK: Panel Approves Grant Program for Rural Coworking & Innovation Centers

HARRISBURG – Legislation that would establish a statewide grant program for Rural Coworking & Innovation Centers (RCIC) received favorable consideration today by the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, according to Committee Chairman Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon).

As part of Senate Bill 962, proposed by committee member Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-Bedford/Cambria/Clearfield) grants of up to $500,000 could be awarded to eligible entities in rural counties and municipalities located within in non-rural counties to construct or renovate a facility, improve utilities and broadband service connections, and for purchasing furniture and security systems to facilitate an online workforce. Forty-eight counties are considered to be rural, according to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

“Working families have altered their livelihoods in response to the latest COVID variants and working closer to home has become an attractive option for our ever evolving workforce,” said Senator Yudichak. “The program has the potential to breathe new life into community facilities, facilitate partnerships with government and school venues, and encourage the adaptive re-use of rural venues.”

As a result of Tuesday’s vote, the bill advances to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Langerholc pointed out that Utah recently enacted a similar program.

“The pandemic fundamentally changed the way individuals work, with many working remotely and even continuing on a permanent basis.  As the way we work evolves, we must ensure that rural Pennsylvania is not left behind,” Senator Langerholc said. “Access to high-speed broadband, infrastructure and equipment is critical to today’s economy, and by enabling our rural communities access, we will help spur economic development.”

Currently, the state’s rural workforce equates to about 1.88 million people. The legislation was supported by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

WATCH: The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee considers Senate Bill 962.

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer; spitzer@pasen.gov